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I 






THE POLISH PEASANT IN EUROPE AND 

AMERICA 

VOLUME III 
LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 



I. 



\ 



I 



THE POLISH PEASANT 
EST EUROPE and AMERICA 

MONOGRAPH OF AN IMMIGRANT GROUP 



*>■ ..'■ 
WILLIAM ifTHOMAS 

and 

FLORIAN ZNANIECKI 



VOLUME III 
LIFE RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 



BOSTON 

RICHARD G. BADGER 

THE GORHAH PRESS 






CoPTBiCBT 1919, Bt Ricbaso G. Baacu 



All Rights Resenred 



Made in the United States of America 



THE GORHAM PRESS. BOSTON, U. S. A 



I 
I 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

Introduction 5 

Life Record of an Immigrant 89 

Conclusion 401 



46604 



INTRODUCTION 

The problem of the present volume is the applica- 
tion of the methods of social psychology to an evolving 
human personality. 

^ In the methodological note prefacing volume I we v 
have outlined the standpoint that a nomothetic social 
science is possible only if all social becoming is viewed 
as the product of a continual interaction of individual 
consciousness and objective social reality. In this\ 
connection the human personality is both a continually 
producing factor and a continually produced result of ; / 
social evolution, and this double relation expresses 
itself in every elementary social fact; there can be 
for social science no change of social reality which is 
not the common effect of pre-existing social values and 
{ individual attitudes acting upon them, no change of 
individual consciousness which is not the common effect 
of pre-existing individual attitudes and social values 
acting upon them. When viewed as a factor of social 
evolution the human personality is a ground of the 
causal explanation of social happenings; when viewed 
as a product of social evolution it is causally explicable 
by social happenings, ijn the first case individual atti- 
tudes toward pre-existing social values serve to ex- 
plain the appearance of new social values; in the 
second case social values acting upon pre-existing 
individual attitudes serve to explain the appearance 
of new individual attitudes./ 

The study of human personalities, both as factors 
and as products of social evolution, serves first of all 
the same purpose as the study of any other social 
data — the determination of social laws. A person- 

S 



6 THE POLISH PEASANT 

ality is always a constitutive element of some social 
group; the values with which it has to deal are, were 
and will be common to many personalities, some of 
them common to all mankind, and the attitudes which 
it exhibits are also shared by many other individuals. 
And even if the values as viewed by a given individual, 
and the attitudes assumed by this individual present 
' peculiarities distinguishing them to some extent from 
values given to and attitudes assumed by all other 
individuals, we can ignore these peculiarities for the 
purposes of scientific generalization, just as the natural 
scientist ignores the peculiarities which make each 
physical thing or happening in a sense unique. In 
analyzing the experiences and attitudes of an individual 
we always reach data and elementary facts which are 
itot exclusively limited to this individual's person- 
ality but can be treated as mere instances of more or'\ 
Aess general classes of data or facts, and can thus be 
(used for the determination of laws of social becoming. 
Whether we draw our materials for sociological analy- ^ 
sis from detailed life-records of concrete individuals 
or from the observation of mass-phenomena, the prob- 
lems of sociological analysis are the same. But even 
when we are searching for abstract laws life-records 
of concrete personalities have a marked superiority 
over any other kind of materials. We are safe in say- 
ing that personal life-records, as complete as possible, 
constitute the perfect type of sociological material, and 
that if social science has to use other materials at all 
it is only because of the practical difficulty of obtain- 
ing at the moment a sufficient number of such records 
to cover the totality of sociological problems, and of 
the enormous amount of work demanded for an ade- 
quate analysis of all the personal materials necessary 



INTRODUCTION 7 

to characterize the life of a social group. If we are 
. forced to use mass-phenomena as material, or any kind 
of happenings taken without regard to the life-histories 
of the individuals who participate in them, it is a defect, 
not an advantage, of our present sociological method. 
Indeed it is clear that even for the characterization 
of single social data — attitudes and values — per- 
sonal life-records give us the most exact approach. 
An attitude as manifested in an isolated act is always 
subject to misinterpretation, but this danger dimin- 
ishes in the very meaisure of our ability to connect this 
act with past acts of the same individual. A social 
institution can be fully understood only if we do not 
limit ourselves to the abstract study of its formal or- 
ganization, but analyTie the way in which it appears 
in the personal experience of various members of the 
group and follow the influence which it has upon their 
lives. And the superiority of life-records over every 
other kind of material for the purposes of sociological 
analysis appears with particular force when we pass 
from the characterization of single data to the deter- 
mination of facts, for there is no safer and more efficient 
way of finding among the innumerable antecedents of 
a social happening the real causes of this happening 
than to analyze the past of the individuals through 
whose agency this happening occurred. The develop- 
ment of sociological investigation during, the past 
fifteen or twenty years, particularly the growing em- 
phasis, which under the pressure of practical needs, is 
being put upon special and actual empirical problems 
as opposed to the general speculations of the preceding 
period, leads to the growing realization that we must 
collect more complete sociological documents than we 
possess. And the more complete a sociological docu- 




8 THE POLISH PEASANT 

ment becomes the more it approaches a full personal 
life-record. The ultimate aim of social science, like 
that of every other science, is to reconcile the highest 
' I possible exactness and generality in its theoretic con- 
clusions with the greatest possible concreteness of the 
object-matter upon which these conclusions bear. Or, 
in other words, to use as few general laws as possible 
for the explanation of as much concrete social life as 
possible. And since concrete social life is concrete 
only when taken together with the individual life 
which underlies social happenings, since the personal 
element is a constitutive factor of every social occur- 
rence, social science cannot remain on the surface of 
social becoming, where certain schools wish to have it 
float, but must reach the actual human experiences 
and attitudes which constitute the full, live and active 
social reality beneath the formal organization of social 
institutions, or behind the statistically tabulated mass- 
phenomena which taken in themselves are nothing 
but symptoms of unknown causal processes and 
can serve only as provisional ground for sociological 
hypotheses. 

But in order to be able to use adequately personal 
life-records for the purposes of nomothetic generaliza- 
tions social science must have criteria permitting it 
to select at once from a mass of concrete human docu- 
ments, those which are likely to be scientifically val- 
uable for the solution of a given general problem. We 
cannot study the life-histories of all the individuals 
participating in a certain social happening, for then 
our task would be inexhaustible. We must limit our- 
selves, just as the natural scientist does, to a few 
representative cases whose thorough study will yield 
results as nearly applicable as possible to all other 



INTRODUCTION 9 

cases concerned. But the problem of selecting repre- 
l sentative cases is much less easy ia social than in nat- 
\ural science because the greater complexity and variety 
which human personalities present as compared with 
Inatxiral things makes their classification more difficult. 
When the mineralogist has studied the chemical com- 
position of a stone it is easy for him to ascertain to 
what other stones the results of his investigation will 
apply, for the class of which this stone was chosen as 
representative is distinguishable by certain superficial 
physical features, and the scientist can assume without 
too much risk that any stone presenting the same phy- 
sical features belongs to the same class and has approxi- 
mately the same chemical composition. But up to 
the present the sociologist lacks really efiicient heuristic 
. devices of this kind. When he has studied the process 
of the appearance of a certain attitude or a certain 
value in the life-history of one social personality he is 
taking a serious risk when he provisionally assumes 
that this case is representative of a certain general 
class — that the process is the same, for example, in 
all the individuals who belong to a certain conmiunity, 
nation, profession, religious denomination, etc. Of 
course any error which he commits can be corrected 
by further research, but the question is, how to dim- 
inish in advance the chances of such errors, how to find 
^jiteria which will permit us, after having investigated 
one human being, to tell more or less exactly to what 
class of human beings the results of this investigation 
are applicable. 

Such criteria can be given only by a theory of human 
individuals as social personalities. The use of indi- 
vidual life-records as material for the determination 
of abstract social laws must be supplemented by a 



lO 



THE POLISH PEASAhfT 



• ( 






sociological Study: of these individuals themselves in 
their entire personal evolution, as concrete components 
of the social world. "The tendency of such a study is 
exactly opposite to that of a search for general laws. 
Its task is the s ynthesis o f the concrete from its abstract 
elements, not the analysis of the concrete into abstract 
elements. If the ideal of nomothetic research is to 
analyze the whole conscious life going on in a society 
into elementary facts and to subordinate these to 
general laws, the ideal of the theory of social person- 
alities is to reconstruct the entire process of every 
personal evolution from single facts, each of which 
should be perfectly explicable on the basis of a general 
law. And such a synthetic investigation, in addition 
to being an indispensable auxiliary of nomothetic 
sociological generalization, has also an important 
theoretic and practical interest of its own, as is indi- 
cated in the attention which has always been paid to 
biography and to questions of temperament and char- 
acter. There has been, however, a striking lack of 
progress in these investigations; they still remain 
approximately on the level which they reached in 
antiquity. The reason of this stagnation is evident. 
Almost all the studies of temperament and character 
have been constructed on the ground of individual, 
not of social psychology, and since personal evolution 
can be understood only in connection with social life 
these theories were unable to take into adequate con- 
sideration the whole wealth of important problems 
bearing on personal evolution, and had to limit them- 
selves to a mere abstract description and classification 
of statically considered formal types. 

Before proceeding, therefore, to the investigation 
of the particular problems involved in the present 



\ 



INTRODUCTION ii 

volume we must discuss the standpoint from which 
every syixthetic. study of a human individual as social ^! 
personality should be made. This implies a complete 
revision of the problem of type^ for the concept of type 
plays the same part in social synthesis as the concept 
of the causal fact plays in social analysis, the aim of 
the former being to find classes, just as the aim of the 
latter is to find laws. Our present discussion will be, 
of course, merely formal and methodological; we do 
not aim to establish in advance a complete classifica- . 
tion of human personalities — this must be the result 
of long studies — but to show in what way such a 
classification can be reached. We shall be forced, 
indeed, to charafcterize several ideal types which social I 
personalities tend to assume, but our characterization 
will be purely formal and based upon relations be- 
tween the individual and his social environment whose 
essential features are the same in all societies, whatever 
may be the content of the personal and social life. . 
Our classification will, therefore, claim to be only 'a 
starting-point for researches whose aim must consist 
in a synthetic characterization of human types pre- 
cisely with regard to the content of the attitudes and 
values which constitute their social personalities. 

The essential points, which cannot be here suf- 
ficiently emphasized, are that the social personality 
as a whole manifests itself only in the course of its 
total life and not at any particular moment of its life, 
and that its life is not a mere empirical manifestation 
of a timeless metaphysical essence, always the same, 
but is a continuous evolution in which nothing re- 
mains unchanged. This evolution often tends toward 
a stabilization as its ultimate limit, but never attains 
this limit completely; and even then it is not this 



^ 



I 



12 THE POLISH PEASANT 

limit as such, but the very course of evolution tending 
to this limit, that constitutes the main object-matter 
of socio-psychological synthesis. 

If we wish, therefore, to use the concept of type 
as applied to social personalities, we must, first of all, 
extend this concept to the process of personal evolu- 
tion. Now this implies a special problem. A per- 
sonal evolution taken in its totality is certainly a 
unique occurrence; no individual develops in the same 
way as any other individual. On the other hand, from 
the standpoint of nomothetic social science this total 
development should be entirely analyzable into ele- 
mentary facts, each indefinitely repeatable and sub- 
ordinated to a general law. But this possibility of 
subordinating single isolated facts of individual life to 
general laws of becoming is evidently not sufficient to 
justify any generalizations concerning personalities, for 
the combination of these elementary facts in the evolu- 
tion of each individual may be so different from what 
it is in the life of others that no comparison of any two 
personalities is possible. We must, therefore, assume 
— and social observation certainly corroborates this 
assumption — that not only single attitudes and val- 
ues, not only single elementary facts, but more or less 
complete combinations, series of facts, present a cer- 
tain similarity from individual to individual. This 
similarity cannot be assumed to go as far as absolute 
identity; the identity is always only approximate. 
Nor is any such combination of facts universal; it is 
not a matter of a single abstract law, but of a concrete 
co-operation of many laws, and is therefore usually 
common to only a certain number of individuals. But 
the concept of type, unlike the concept of law, needs 
only an approximate identity of individual cases, and 



; 



INTRODUCTION 13 

« 

a class is supposed to possess only a relative generality. 
The application of sociological generalization to 
social personalities requires thus, first of all, the admis- 
sion of what we may call typical litres of genesis^ A 
\ line of genesis is a series of facts through which a cer 
tain attitude is developed from some other attitude (or 
group of attitudes), a value from some other value (or 
group of values), when it does not develop directly, 
and the process cannot be treated as a single elemen- 
tary fact. For example there is probably no social 
influence that could produce directly an attitude of 
appreciation of science from the parvenu's pride in 
his wealth, no intellectual attitude that could directly 
lead an untrained individual to produce a scientifically 
valid concept from the data of common-sense obser- 
vation; but by a series of intermediary stages the 
parvenu can become a sincere protector of science, 
by a more or less long training in theoretic research a 
student learns to produce scientific values. In such 
a series every single link is a fact of the type: attitude 
— value — attitude, or: value — attitude — value,* 
and as such, if properly analyzed, can always be ex- 
plained by sociological law (or lead to the discovery 
of a sociological law), but the series as a whole cannot 
be subject to any law, for there are many possible ways 
in which an attitude can be developed out of another 
attitude, a value out of another value; all depends on 
the nature of the intermediary data. Thus, if we have 
as starting-point an attitude a and as result an attitude 

* The existence of typical lines of genesis has a fundamental iinp6rtance 
for problems concerning the general types of individual development in any 
particular field — intellectual, moral, religious, aesthetic, economic. It is, in 
fact, a conscious or unconscious basis of all special education and professional 
training. More detailed use of the principle will be made in Volumes IV and V. 

' An acquaintance with the methodological, note. Volume I, is assumed. 



I( 



14 THE POLISH PEASANT 

m, the evolution may have gone on in such a way that 
out of ay under the influence of a value 5, is evolved 
the attitude d; out of rf, under the influence of /, the 
attitude A, and A, under the influence of a value Nj 
was changed into the attitude m. But it may have 
happened also that a was influenced not by 5, but by 
C, and the result was a different attitude e^ which again 
under the influence not of -F, but of G, gave z, and t, 
when influenced by Z, also produced m. And the same 
can be said of values. To take well-known examples, 
there is probably usually one and the same primary 
attitude — a particular form of the desire for excite- 
ment, which we shall analyze in a later volume — out- 
of which habitual drinking develops, and yet there 
are many possible ways of becoming a drunkard. The 
history of inventions shows that many inventors work- 
ing independently on the same practical problem may 
produce the same invention, but their procedure may 
be completely different. And of course it is hardly 
necessary to say that from a given attitude or value 
many different lines of 'evolution may start and reach 
quite different results, and that a given attitude or value 
may have been reached from many different starting 
points by different lines of evolution. Moreover in 
jthe development of a human personality there are 
'many and various divergent lines of genesis, since at 
any moment of his life the individual not only presents 
many attitudes acquired during his past development 
and produces many values which he has learned to 
produce, but this acquired set of attitudes and abilities 
is more or less different from moment to moment. 
Viewed therefore from the standpoint of particular 
lines of genesis the human personality in its total evo- 
lution might appear as too complex to be the object- 



INTRODUCTION 15 

matter of scientific generalization. But the theoreti- 
cally limitless variety of lines of genesis is really limited 
in practice. There are only a few typical ways in 
which an attitude is developed out of a determined 
other attitude or a value out of a determined other 
value. More than this, when an attitude or a value 
becomes the starting-point of a line of evolution we 
can assume that there are only a few different results 
which this evolution may reach, and when an attitude 
or a value is given, we can asstime that there are only 
a few different starting-points from which such a result 
might have been reached. A« long as the attitudes 
of the individual are unsettled and unorganized, as 
in the child, a new attitude can be developed out of a 
pre-existing one in many ways, because the individual 
is open to many and various influences; there is in 
him little to interfere with a given influence. This 
gives^ of course, many opportunities to educational 
endeavors tending to produce certain values; and for 
the same reason a determined influence exercised upon 
the child may open the way to almost any line of 
genesis and lead to any new ultimate results. On the 
contrary, when the individual has acquired a more or 
Jess rich stock of stabilized attitudes, a certain influ- 
ence may not be accepted because in disagreement with 
this stock. Therefore the way in which a given new 
attitude can develop is limited, and it may be difficult, 
sometimes even practically impossible, to produce it 
because the necessary influences to which the indivi- 
dual would react in the desired way may not be availa- 
ble. Thus the stabilization of individual attitudes 
diminishes the probability that his future development 
will assume an unforeseen direction. 

And there is a further limitation of the possible lines 



i6 THE POLISH PEASANT 

of genesis in the stability and limited variety of exter- 
nal conditions. First of all there is a general negative 
limitation of external influences by the fact that the 
milieu in which the individual lives includes only a 
limited variety of values. But much more important 
is the positive limitation of evolution which society 
imposes upon the individual by putting him into a 
determined frame of organized activities which involves 
in advance a general succession of influences — early 
family education, beginning of a definite career with 
determined openings, marriage, etc. — establishes a 
regularity of periodical alternations of work and play, 
food and sleep, etc., and with the help of economic, 
I I legal and moral sanctions prescribes and excludes cer- 
tain forms of behavior. The more uniform and steady 
this frame, the greater the relative parallelism of evo- 
lution between individuals; similar lines of genesis 
repeat themselves in many members of the group, for 
the individual cannot find around him influences which 
would make him take a course different from other 
members of the group in acquiring a new attitude. Of 
course this means also a limitation of the variety of 
possible attitudes or values that can develop from a 
given starting-point; given a certain material in the 
form of an individual disposition or of a social value, 
it is probable that the group will make of it something 
very definite, and the same in every case, particularly 
where the social framework is little varied and flexible. 
Still more extensive uniformities of development are 
j I found in connection with temperament and character. 
Not only single attitudes or values but wide and or- 
ganized groups of attitudes and groups of values are 
found developing in a similar way in many personali- 
ties and certain of these organized groups assume such 



1 



INTRODUCTION 



17 



prevalence in personal life that the individual taken in 
his entire evolution may be approximately character- 
ized by the prominence of a few such groups. Tem- 
perament and character are the concepts in which has 
been expressed the common-sense realization that there 
are always a few organized groups of attitudes in a 
personality which play a predominant part in its activ- 
ity, so that for practical purposes any attitudes outside 
of those groups can be neglected as inconspicuously 
manifesting themselves in personal behavior. The 
concept of individual life-organization may be used to 
indicate the existence, within the sphere of experience 
of an individual, of a limited number of selected and 
organized groups of social values which play a pre- 
dominant part in his life both as partial causes and 
partial effects of his more or less organized attitudes. 

We must here investigate the methodological signifi- 
cance of these concepts and attempt to give them more 
exact and more productive meanings than those they 
have had in popular psychology and in half-literary 
reflection about human life. It must be remembered 
in particular that the fundamental problems of the 
synthesis of human personalities are not problems of 
a personal status but problems of personal becoming, 
that the ultimate question is not what temperaments 
and characters there are but what are the ways in 
which a definite character is developed out of a definite 
temperament, not what life-organizations exist but 
by what means a certain life-organization is developed. 
It is relatively easy to classify temperaments and char- 
acters, but this classification is entirely unproductive 
unless it is used as a mere preparation for the study of 
their evolution, where the aim is to determine human 
types as dynamic types, as types of development. 



If 

I 




t 

I 

I 

r 

I 

I 

> 
f 

{ 



\ 



i8 THE POLISH PEASANT 

Similarly with regard to personal life-organization, we 
find in any society ready models of organization with 
which individuals are expected to comply; but the 
analysis of these models does not constitute a study 
of personalities — it is merely its starting-point. After 
learning what models the group proposes to its mem- 
bers, we must learn by what typical means those mem- 
bers gradually realize or fail to realize these models. 
In other words the concepts of temperament, character, 
life-organization, mark only the starting-point and the 
limit of the evolution which is the real object-matter 
of the study of human personalities. It becomes, 
therefore, a point of essential importance to frame 
definitions of temperament, character and life-organi- 
zation which may be used in the study of personal 
evolution. 

We may call temperament the fundamental original 
group of attitudes of the individual as existing inde- 
pendently of any social influences; we may call char- 
acter the set of organized and fixed groups of attitudes 
developed by social influences operating upon the 
temperamental basis. The temperamental attitudes 
are essentially instinctive, that is, they express them- 
selves in biological action but not in reflective con- 
sciousness; the attitudes of the character are intel- 
lectual, that is, they are given by conscious reflection. 
This does not mean that the temperamental attitude 
cannot be experienced; it usually is experienced when 
for some reason the activity is inhibited. But with 
the tJemperamental attitude there is no conscious 
connection between the separate actions in which it 
expresses itself; every single feeling and satisfaction 
(e. g., hunger), is for the individual a separate entity; 
the living being does not generalize these feelings as 



INTRODUCTION 19 

forming one series, one permanent attitude. On the 
contrary, every manifestation of a character-attitude 
is given to the subject as a single expression of a more 
or less general tendency; a helpful or harmful action 
is accompanied by a consciousness of sympathy or hate, 
that is, by a conscious tendency to the repetition (or 
remembrance) of actions with an analogous meaning; 
the attitude accompanying the actual production of 
some piece of work is given as one element of a series 
that may be willingness or unwillingness to do such 
work, desire to realize a plan, to earn money, etc. 
This consciousness need not be always explicit, but it 
must be implicitly present and become explicit from ^• 
time to time if the attitude is to be defined as a char- 
acter-attitude. 

Correspondingly, the temperamental attitudes are /; 
not systematically organized and co-ordinated among / 
themselves in the whole course of personal life but 
are only associated with each other by being repeatedly 
used together for the production of certain common 
results in certain conditions provided by the organism 
and its eiWtronment, If a certain group of tempera- 
mental attitudes reappears from case to case in such 
activities as the satisfaction of hunger or of the sexual 
appetite, it is not because these attitudes have been 
consciously subordinated to a predominant attitude, 
but because their association has habitually brought 
the desired result in the given conditions. And, on 
the other hand, there is no conscious tendency to 
establish harmony and to avoid contradictions between 
separate groups of temperamental attitudes mani- 
fested at various moments of individual life. A group 
of temperamental attitudes either finds its expression 
at a given moment by pushing others aside, or is pushed 




20 THE POLISH PEASANT 

aside by some other group and is not expressed at all. 
Thus, hunger and sexual desire, fear and anger mani- 
fest themselves independently of each other without 
any conscious attempt at co-ordination. In character, 
on the contrary, attitudes are more or less systema- 
tized; their continuity through many manifestations 
makes this indispensable. Thus, hunger or sexual 
desire becomes a permanent basis of a conscious and 
systematic organization of a large group of economic, 
social, hedonistic, intellectual, aesthetic attitudes, and 
this organization works continuously, independently 
of the actual association of these attitudes from case 
to case; the attitudes organized for the permanent 
satisfaction of hunger or sexual desire manifest them- 
selves even while no hunger or sexual desire is actually 
felt and while the actual material conditions do not 
suggest them in any way. Moreover, between the 
system of attitudes subordinated to hunger and the 
system of attitudes subordinated to sexual desire, 
between a general policy of prudence having the atti- 
tude of fear as its basis and a general system of aggres- 
sive tendencies rooted ultimately in the attitude of 
anger, permanent relations are usually established, 
either by subordinating the conflicting attitudes to 
some more general attitude — desire for happiness, 
for social success, etc. — or by giving priority to one 
of them. 

These differences bjctween temperament and char- 
acter find their expression on the objective side in 
matters of life-organization. But in order to under- 
stand this side of the question we must get rid of the 
whole schematic conception of the world assimilated 
from common-sense reflectfion and from science. We 
must put ourselves in the position of the subject who 



INTRODUCTION 



21 



tries to find his way in this world, and we must remem- 
ber, first of all, that the environment by which he is 
influenced and to which he adapts himself, is his world, 
not the objective world of science — is nature and 
society as he sees them, not as the scientist sees them. 
The individual subject reacts only to his experience, 
and his experience is not everything that an absolutely 
objective observer might find in the portion of the 
world within the individual's reach, but only what the 
individual himself finds. And what he finds depends 
upon his practical attitudes toward his environment, 
the demands he makes upon it and his control over it, 
the wishes he seeks to satisfy and the way in which he 
tries to satisfy them. His world thus widens with the 
development of his demands and his means of control, 
and the process of this widening involves two essential 
phases — the introduction of new complexities of data 
into the sphere of his experience and the definition of 
new situations within those complexities. 

The first phase is characterized by an essential 
vagueness. The situation is quite undetermined; even 
if there are already in the individual wishes which will 
give significance to the new data, they are not suffi- 
ciently determined with regard to these data, and the 
complexity is not ordered, values are not outlined, 
their relations are not established. In the second 
phase the situation becomes definite, the wish is crys- 
tallized and objectified, and the individual begins to 
control his new experience. Now, the sphere of exper- 
ience in which new situations can be defined by the 
temperament alone does not include social life at all. 
It includes only internal organic processes and such 
external experiences as are directly connected with the 
satisfaction of organic needs and the avoidance of 



22 THE POLISH PEASANT 

physical danger. Of course this sphere is also con- 
tinually extended, chiefly during the period between 
birth and maturity, and its extension, as we know from 
observation and from direct consciousness of such 
processes as the development and satisfaction of sexual 
instincts, has also the two periods of vague perception 
of a chaos of new data and gradual definition of new 
situations. But all the material with which the tem- 
perament deals has one essential limitation: it includes 
only natural objects, whose significance for the indivi- 
dual is determined by their sensual content. Mean- 
while the social values are significant as much or more 
because of the meaning they have for other individuals 
or for the group. For example, a material object out- 
side of social life and in relation to organic needs may 
be significant on account of its sensual qualities, as 
food, as shelter, as source of possible pain, etc. In 
social life it acquires through its meaning for others 
ideal qualities which make it an economic value (object 
of exchange), a source of vanity, a weapon in a fight for 
some other value, etc. A word outside of social life 
is a mere sound, perhaps helping to foresee possible 
danger or satisfaction; in social life it has a meaning, 
it points to experiences common to many individuals 
and known as common by all of them. A painting as 
natural object is a piece of canvas with colors, perhaps 
suggesting by association the things represented; in 
social life it has a new meaning; it stands for the ideas 
and emotions of the painter himself, the critics, the 
crowd of observers, etc. An individual of the other 
sex is naturally chiefly a body, object of physical satis- 
faction; socially it is also a conscious being with an 
experience of its own and a personality which has to be 
adapted to the subject's own personality or to which 



INTRODUCTION 23 

the subject has to adapt himself. And so on. This ^ 
is why social psychology, while rejecting the old con- 1 
ception of individual consciousness as closed receptacle 
or series of conscious data or happenings, cannot accept^ 
as its methodological basis the principles recently 
developed by the behavioristic school. The behavior | \^ 
of an individual as social personality is not scientifically; 
reducible to sensually observable movements and 
cannot be explained on the ground of the direct exper- 
ience of the observing psychologist; the movements | 
(including words) must be interpreted in terms offj 
intentions, desires, emotions, etc. — in a word, in terms ^ 
of attitudes — and the explanation of any particular 
act of personal behavior must be sought on the ground 
of the experience of the behaving individual which the 
observer has indirectly to reconstruct by way of con- :i 
elusions from what is directly given to him. We can-^^ 
not neglect the meanings, the suggestions which objects 
have for the conscious individual, because it is these 
meanings which determine the individual's behavior; 
and we cannot explain these meanings as mere abbre- 
viations of the individual's past acts of biological adap- 
tation to his material environment — as manifestations 
of organic memory — because the meanings to which 
he reacts are not only those which material things have 
assumed for him as a result of his own past organic 
activities, but also those which these things have ac- 
quired long ago in society and which the individual is 
taught to understand during his whole education as 
conscious member of a social group. 

The biological being and his behavior represent 
therefore nothing but the limit dividing natural from 
social life; the individual is an object-matter of social 
psychology only in so far as his activities are above 



1/ 



*4 



THE POLISH PEASANT 



/ 



/ 



this limit, imply on his part a conscious realization of 
existing social meanings and require from the scientist 
^n indirect reconstruction of his attitudes. Therefore 
this limit itself must be defined by social psychology 
in terms of attitudes, and the concept of temperamental 
attitudes serves precisely this purpose. An individual 
with nothing but his biological formation, or — in social 
terms — with nothing but his temperamental attitudes, 
is not yet a social personality, but is able to become one. 
In the face of the world of social meanings he stands 
powerless; he is not even conscious of the existence of 
this reality, and when the latter manifests itself to him 
in changes of the material reality upon which his in- 
stincts bear, he is quite lost and either passively sub- 
mits to the unexpected, or aimlessly revolts. Such is 
the position of the animal or the infant in human so- 
ciety; and a similar phenomenon repeats itself on a 
smaller scale whenever an individual on a low level of 
civilization gets in touch with a higher civilized en- 
vironment, a worldling with a body of specialists, a 
foreigner with an autochthonic society, etc. In fact, 
human beings for the most part never suspect the 
existence of innumerable meanings — scientific, artis- 
tic, moral, political, etonomic — and a field of social 
reality whose meanings the individual does not know, 
even if he can observe its sensual contents, is as much 
out of the reach of his practical experience as the other 
side of the moon. 

In order to become a social personality in any do- 
main the individual must therefore not only realize the 
existence of the social meanings which objects possess 
in this domain, but also learn how to adapt himself to 
the demands which society puts upon him from the 
standpoint of these meanings and how to control these 



INTRODUCTION 



2S 



meanings for his personal purposes; and since mean- 
ings imply conscious thought, he must do this by con- 
scious reflection, not by mere instinctive adaptations 
of reflexes. In order to satisfy the social demands put 
upon his personality he must reflectively organize his 
temperamental attitudes; in order to obtain the satis- 
faction of his own demands, he must develop intel- 
lectual methods for the control of social reality in place 
of the instinctive ways which are sufficient to control 
natural reality. And this effective reorganization of 
temperamental attitudes leads, as we have seen, to 
character, while the parallel development of intellectual 
methods of controlling social reality leads to a life- 
organization, which is nothing but the totality of these 
methods at work in the individual's social career. 

The practical problem which the individual faces 
in constructing a life-organization has only in so far a 
similarity with the problem of biological control of the 
living being's natural environment as the solution of 
both implies a certain stabilization of individual exper- 
iences, the realization of a certain more or less perma- 
nent order within that sphere of reality which the 
individual controls. But the nature of this stability, 
of this permanent order, is essentially different in both 
cases — a difference which has been obliterated by the 
indistinct use of the term "habit" to indicate any uni- 
formities of behavior. This term should be restricted 
to the biological field. A habit, inherited or acquired, 
is the tendency to repeat the same act in similar ma- 
terial conditions. The stabilization reached through 
habit involves no conscious, purposeful regulation of 
new experiences, but merely the tendency to find in new 
experiences old elements which will enable the living 
being to react to them in an old way. This tendency 



1/ 



). 



/ 



26 THE POLISH PEASANT 

/ is unreflective; reflection arises only when there is 
I disappointment, when new experiences cannot be prac- 
; tically assimilated to the old ones. But this form of 
^ * stability can work only when the reality to which the 
individual has to adjust is entirely constituted by sensu- 
ally given contents and relations. It is evidently in- 
sufiicient when he has to take social meanings into 
account, interpret his experience not exclusively in 
terms of his own needs and wishes, but also in terms 
of the traditions, customs, beliefs, aspirations of his 
social milieu. Thus the introduction of any stable 
/ order into experience requires continual reflection, for 
it is impossible even to realize whether a certain experi- 
/ .ence is socially new or old without consciously inter- 
' ' preting the given content — an object, a movement, a * 
word — and realizing what social meaning it possesses. 
However stable a social milieu may be, its stability can 
never be compared with that of a physical milieu; 
social situations never spontaneously repeat themselves, 
every situation is more or less new, for every one 
includes new human activities differently combined. 
The individual does not find passively ready situations 
exactly similar to past situations ; he must consciously 
define every situation as similar to certain past situa- 
tions, if he wants to apply to it the same solution applied 
to those situations. And this is what society expects 
him to do when it requires of him a stable life-organiza- 
tion ; it does not want him to react instinctively in the 
same way to the same material conditions, but to 
construfct reflectively similar social situations even if 
material conditions vary. The uniformity of behavior 
it tends to impose upon the individual is not a uni- 
formity of organic habits but of consciously followed 
rules. The individual, in order to control social reality 



INTRODUCTION 



27 



for his needs, must develop not series of uniform reac- 
tions, but general schemes of situations; his life-organi- 
zation is a set of rules for definite situations, which may 
be even expressed in abstract formulas. Moral prin- 
ciples, legal prescription, economic forms, religious 
rites, social customs, etc., are examples of schemes. , 

The definiteness of attitudes attained in character 
and the corresponding schematization of social data 
in life-organization admit, however, a wide scale of 
gradation with regard to one point of fundamental 
importance, — the range of possibilities of further de- 
velopment remaining open to the individual after the 
stabilization. This depends on the nature of the atti- 
tudes involved in the character and of the schemes of 
life-organization, and also on the way in which both are 
unified and systematized. And here three typical cases / 
can be distinguished. ^..^ 

The set of attitudes constituting the character may 
be such as practically to exclude the development of 
any new attitude in the given conditions of life, because 
the reflective attitudes of an individual have attained , 
so great a fixity that he is accessible to only a certain 1 1 | 
class of influences — those constituting the most per- | 
manent part of his social milieu. The only possibili- 
ties of evolution then remaining open to the individual 
are the slow changes brought by age in himself and by 
time in his social milieu, or a change of conditions so 
radical as to destroy at once the values to whose influ- 
ence he was adapted and presumably his own character. 
This is the type which has found its expression in lit- 
erature as the "Phnjsijne." M It is opposed to the 
"Bohemian," whose possibilities of evolution are not 
closed, simply because his character remains unformed. 
Some of his temperamental attitudes are in their 



/ 



// 



if 



28 THE POLISH PEASANT 

primary form, others may have become intellectual- 
ized but remain unrelated to each other, do not con- 
stitute a stable and systematized set, and do not 
exclude any new attitude, so that the individual re- 
mains open to any and all influences. As opposed to 
both these types we find the third type of the individual 
whose character is settled and organized but involves 
the possibility and even the necessity of evolution, 
because the reflective attitudes constituting it include 
a tendency to change, regulated by plans of productive 
activity, and the individual remains open to such in- 
fluences as will be in line of his preconceived develop- 
ment. This is the type of the creative individual. 

A parallel distinction must be made with regard to 
the schemes of social situations constituting the life- 
organization. The ability to define every situation 
which the individual meets in his experience is not 
necessarily a proof of intellectual superiority; it may 
mean simply a limitation of claims and interests and 
a stability of external conditions which do not allow 
any radically new situations to be noticed, so that a 
few narrow schemes are sufficient to lead the individual 
through life, simply because he does not see problems 
on his way which demand new schemes. This type 
of schemes constitutes the common stock of social 
traditions in which every class of situation is defined 
in the same way once and forever. These schemes 
harmonize perfectly with the Philistine's character 
and therefore the Philistine is always a conformist, 
usually accepting social tradition in its most stable 
elements. Of course every important and unexpected 
change in the conditions of life results for such an in- 
dividual in a disorganization of activity. ^ As long as 
he can he still applies the old schemes, and up to a 



INTRODUCTION (29 ^ ' 

certain point his old definition of new situations nfiay 
be sufficient to allow him to satisfy his claims if the 
latter are low, although he cannot compete with those 
who have higher claims and more efficient schemes. 
But as soon as the results of his activity become unsuc- 
cessful even in his own eyes, he is entirely lost; the 
situation becomes for him completely vague and unde- 
termined, he is ready to accept any definition that may 
be suggested to him and is unable to keep any per- 
manent line of activity. This is the case with any 
conservative and intellectually limited member of a 
stable community ,< whatever may be his social class, 
when he finds himself transferred into another com- 
munity or when his own group undergoes some rapid 
and sudden change. 

Opposed to .this type we find an undetermined 
variation of schemes in the life of all the numerous 
species of the Bohemian. The choice of the scheme 
by a Bohemian depends on his momentary standpoint, 
and this may be determined either by some outburst 
of a primary temperamental attitude or by some iso- 
lated character-attitude which makes him subject to . 
some indiscriminately accepted influence. In either ' 
case inconsistency is the essential feature of his activity, f f 
But on the other hand he shows a degree of adaptability 
to new conditions quite in contrast with the Philistine, 
though his adaptability is only provisional and does not " 
lead to a new systematic life-organization. 

But adaptability to new situations and diversity 
of interest are even compatible with a consistency of 
activity superior to that which tradition can give if the 
individual builds his life-organization not upon the 
presumption of the immutability of his sphere of social 
values, but upon the tendency to modify and to enlarge 



u 



30 THE POLISH PEASANT 

it according to some definite aims. These may be 
purely intellectual or aesthetic, and in this case the^ 
individual searches for new situations to be defined 
simply in order to widen and to perfect his knowledge 
or his aesthetic interpretation and appreciation; or 
his aims may be "practical," in any sense of the term 
— hedonistic, economical, political, moral, religious — 
and then the individual searches for new situations in 
[ order to widen the control of his environment, to adapt 
; ' to his purposes a continually increasing sphere of social 
reality. This is the creative man. 
*^' The Philistine, the Bohemian and the creativeman 
/ ' . are the^three^lujxdaroent 

i mination toward.whirh sorial personalities tend in j;heir 

' \ j evolution. None of these forms is ever completely 
and absolutely realized by a human individual in all 
lines of activity; there is no Philistine who lacks com- 
pletely Bohemian tendencies, no Bohemian who is not 
a Philistine in certain respects, no creative man who 
is fully and exclusively creative and does not need some 
Philistine routine in certain lines to make creation in 
other lines practically possible, and some Bohemianism 
in order to be able to reject occasionally such fixed 
attitudes and social regulations as hinder his progress, 
even if he should be unable at the time to substitute 
for them any positive organization in the given line. 
But while pure Philistinism, pure Bohemianism and 
pure creativeness represent only ideal limits of per- 
sonal evolution, the process of personal evolution grows 
to be more and more definite as it progresses, so that, 
"while the form which a human personality will assume 
is not determined in advance, either by the individual's 
temperament or by his social milieu, his future becomes 
more and more determined by the very course of his 



INTRODUCTION 31 

development; he approaches more and more to Phil- ^' 
istinism, Bohemianism or creativeness and thereby his 
possibilities of becoming something else continually 
diminish. 

These three general types — limits of personal evo- 
lution — include, of course, an indefinite number of 
variations, depending on the nature of the attitudes by 
which characters are constituted and on the schemes 
composing the life-organization of social individuals. \l 
If we wished therefore to classify human personalities 
on the ground of the limits of development to which 
they tend, our task would be very difficult, if not im- 
possible, for we should have to take characters and 
life-organizations separately in all their varieties into 
account. In each of these three fundamental types 
similar characters may correspond to indefinitely vary- 
ing life-organizations and similar life-organizations to 
indefinitely varying characters. But, as we have seen, 
the problem is to study characters and life-organizations Ifjh 
not in their static abstract form, but in their dynamic " ' | ' 
concrete develoj^ment. And both character and life- 
organization — the subjective apd the objective side 
of the personality — develop together. For an attitude 
can become stabilized ais a part of the reflective char- \ 
acter only under the influence of a scheme of behavior, 
and vice versay the construction or acceptance of a 
scheme demands that an attitude be stabilized as a 
part of character. Every process of personal evolution 
consists, therefore, in a complex evolutionary series |. 
in which social schemes, acting upon pre-existing atti- ji 
tude^, produce new attitudes in such a way that the 
latter represent a determination of the temperamental 
tendencies with regard to the social world, a realization 
in a conscious form of the character-possibilities which 



/ 



1 

I 

f 



32 THE POLISH PEASANT 

the individual brings with him; and these new atti- 
tudes, with their intellectual continuity, acting upon 
pre-existing sets of social values in the sphere of in- 
dividual experiences produce new values in such a way 
that every production of a value represents at the same 
time a definition of some vague situation, and this is a 
step toward the constitution of some consistent scheme 
of behavior. In the continual interaction between the 
individual and his environment we can say neither that 
the individual is the product of his milieu nor that he 
/ produces his milieu; or rather, we can say both. For 

\- j the individual can indeed develop only under the influ- 

/ ence of his environment, but on the other hand during 

his development he modifies this environment by defin- 
ing situations and solving them according to his wishes 

; and tendencies. His influence upon the environment 

may be scarcely noticeable socially, may have little 
importance for others, but it is important for himself, 
since, as we have said, the world in which he lives is hot 
the world as society or the scientific observer sees it 
but as he sees it himself. In various cases we may find 
various degrees of dependence upon the environment, 
conditioned by the primary qualities of the individua, 
and the type of social organization. The individual 
is relatively dependent upon society in his evolutionl 
if he develops mainly such attitudes as lead to depen- 
dence, which is then due both to his temperamental 
dispositions and to the fact that the organization of 
society is such as to enforce by various means individual 
subjection; he is relatively independent if in his evolu- 
tion he develops attitudes producing independence, 
which again results from certain primary tendencies 
determined by a social organization which favors indi- 
vidual spontaneity. And thus both dependence and 



f 



^ 



INTRODUCTION 33 

independence are gradual products of an evolution 
which is due originally to reciprocal interaction; the 
individual cannot become exclusively dependent upon 
society without the help of his own diispdsition, nor 
become independent of society without the help of 
social influences. The fundamental principles of per- 
sonal evolution must be sought therefore both in the 
individual's own nature and in his social milieu. , 

We find, indeed, two universal traits manifested in 
all individual attitudes, instinctive or intellectual, 
which form the condition of both development and 
conservatism. In the reflex system of all the higher 
organisms are two p6werful tendencies which in their 
most distinct and explicit form manifest themselves 
as curiosity and fear. Without curiosity, that is, an 
interest in new situations in general, the animal would 
not live; to neglect the new situation might mean either 
that he was about to be eaten or that he was missing 
his chance for food. And fear with its contrary tend- 
ency to avoid certain experiences for the sake of security 
is equally essential to life. To represent these two 
permanent tendencies as they become parts of character 
in the course of the social development of a personality 
we shall use the terms ^^ desire for new experienced^ and J 
^desire for stability. ^^ These two tendencies in every * 
permanent attitude manifest themselves in the rythmi- 
cal form which conscious life assumes in every line. 
When consciousness embraces only a short span of 
activities, the rhythm expresses itself in the alternation 
of single wishes or appetites with repose. The satis- 
faction of hunger or of sexual desire and the subsequent 
wish for uninterrupted calm are the most general ex- 
amples. On a higher level these tendencies manifest 
themselves with regard to much more complex and 



34 THE POLISH PEASANT 

longer series of facts. The desire for stability extends 
to a whole period of regular alternations of activity 
and rest from which new experiences are relatively 
excluded; the desire for new experience finds its expres- 
sion in the break of such a whole line of regulated 
activities. And the range and complexity of both 
stability and change may have many degrees. Thus, 
for example, stability may mean the possibility of a 
single series of satisfactions of hunger in a certain res- 
taurant, of a week's relation with an individual of the 
other sex, of a few days' stay in one place during travel, 
of a certain kind of work in an office; or it may lie in 
the possibility of such an organization of money-affairs 
as gives the certainty of always getting food, of a per- 
manent marriage-relation, settling permanently in one 
place, a life career, etc. And new experience may 
mean change of restaurant, change of the temporary 
sexual relation, change of the kind of work within the 
same office, the resuming of travel, the acquiring of 
wealth, getting a divorce, developing a Don Juan atti- 
tude toward women, change of career or speciality, 
development of amateur or sporting interests, etc. 

On the individual side, then, alternation of the de- 
sire for new experience and of the desire for security is 
the fundamental principle of personal evolution, as 
including both the development of a character and of 
a life-organization. On the social side the essential 
point of this evolution lies in the fact that the indivi- 
dual living in society has to fit into a pre-existing social 
worldy to take part in the hedonistic, economic, political, 
religious, moral, aesthetic, intellectual activities of the 
group. For these activities the group has objective 
systems f more or less complex sets of schemes, organized 
either by traditional association or with a conscious 



INTRODUCTION 



3S 



regard to the greatest possible efficiency of the result, 
but with only a secondary, or even with no interest 
in the particular desires, abilities and experiences of the 
individuals who have to perform these activities. The 
latter feature of the social systems results, of course, 
from the fact that the systems have to regulate identi- 
cally the activities of many individuals at once, and that 
they usually last longer than the period of activity of 
an individual, passing from generation to generation. 
The gradual establishment of a determined relation 



between thes e syste ms whic h constitute to gei^ ^ier th e 
social organization of the civ ilized life of a p roup. and 
individual character and life-organization in the course 
of their progressive formation, is the central problem 
of the social control of personal evolution. And social 
control — which, when applied to personal evolution, 
may be called "social education*' — mariifests itself 
also in the duality of two opposite tendencies: the 
t endency to suppress in the c o urse of per s_QiiaI evolu- 
tion, any attitudes or values which are either directly 
in disharmony with the existing social organization or 
seem to be the starting-points of lines of genesis which 
are expected to lead to socially disharmonious con- 
sequences; and the tendency to develop by adequately 
influencing personal evolution features of character and 
schemes of situations required by the existing social 
systems. 

There is, of course, no pre-existing harmony what- 
ever between the individual and the social factors of 
personal evolution, and theJhmdamental tendencies of 
the individual are always in some, disaccordanre .witL 
the fundamental tendencies of social control. Personal 
evolution is always a struggle between the individual 
and society — a struggle for self-expression on the part 



\ 



36 THE POLISH PEASANT 

of the individual, for his subjection on the part of 
/ / society — and it is in the total course of this struggle 
/ that the personality — not as a static "essence" but 
/ as a dynamic, continually evolving set of activities — 
manifests and constructs itself. The relative degree 
of the desire for new experience and the desire for 
stability necessary for and compatible with the progres- 
sive incorporation of a personality into a social organi- 
zation is dependent on the nature of individual interests 
and of the social systems. Thus, different occupations 
allow for more or less change, as in the cases of the 
artist and the factory workman; and a many-sided 
dilletante needs and can obtain more new experiences 
than a specialist; single life usually makes more new 
experiences along certain lines possible and demands 
less stabilization than married life; political co-opera- 
tion with the conservative part of a group brings less 
change than taking part in a revolutionary movement. 
An j^ijTjnr^nHprn RQ^jpiy in general there is an increasing 
tendency to appreciate change, as compared with the 
appreciation of stability in the ancient and mediaeval 
/?Kodds. For every system within a given group and 
Sat a certain time there is a maximum and a minimum 
2^of change and of stability permissible and required. 
The widening of this range and the increase of the 
variety of systems are, of course, favorable to indivi- 
dual self-expression within the socially permitted limits. 
Thus, the whole process of development of the per- 
sonality as ruled in various proportions by the desire 
for new experience and the desire for stability on the 
individual side, by the tendency to suppress and the 
tendency to develop personal possibilities on the social 
side, includes the following parallel and interdependent 
processes : 



INTRODUCTION 37 

(i) Determination of the character on the 
ground of the temperament; 

(2) Constitution of a life-organization which 

permits a more or less complete objec- 
tive expression of the various attitudes 
included in the character; 

(3) Adaptation of the character to social de- 

mands put upon the personality; 

(4) Adaptation of individual life-organization 

to social organization. 

I. We know already that the development of tem- 
peramental attitudes into character-attitudes can as- 
sume many different directions, so that, if the proper 
influences were exercised from the beginning, a wide 
range of characters, theoretically any possible character, 
might be evolved out of any temperament. But the 
directions which evolution must take in order to produce 
a determined attitude out of a pre-existing one be- 
come more and more limited with the fixation of 
character; in a systematically unified "consistent" 
character every fixed attitude would exclude the con- 
trary one, and some degree of consistency appears as 
soon as the character begins to be formed. With the 
progressive evolution of the personality the means of 
developing a given character become therefore less and 
less numerous and it may be finally practically impos- 
sible to carry the development of certain attitudes to 
their end, for the process necessary to develop them 
might be so long and complicated as to be impractica- 
ble. Thus, it might be possible to produce a sweet and 



38 THE POLISH PEASANT 

even a meek character out of an irascible temperament 
by developing first, for example, a strong altruistic dis- 
position, to which in turn the way might lead through 
the desire for social response. But if in the develop- 
ment of the personality other attitudes were gradually 
formed contrary to the desire for response or to altru- 
ism, such as desire for solitude, pride, etc., the original 
irascibility might be still subdued by other influences, 
but certainly it would be impossible to produce sweet- 
ness. Assuming now that we are determined to produce 
the latter, then we must be careful not to allow any 
temperamental possibilities to realize themselves which 
may be contrary either to this attitude itself or to any 

of the attitudes which the individual must evolve in 

« 

order to attain this stage. The more opposition there 
is between the original temperamental attitude and the 
one that we want to develop, the longer the process, 
the more the intermediary stages to be passed, and the 
greater the number of necessary suppressions. 

But in actual social life the mechanism of suppres- 
sion is not used in this detailed way and the motives 
of suppression are not in the main those which we have 
outlined. The possible attitudes which the members 
of the group wish to suppress are usually those whose 
direct expression in action would, in the social opinion, 
be harmful, rather than those which are contrary to 
the development of other useful ones. The control 
exercised by the group is negative much more than 
positive, tends to destroy much more than to construct, 
< for reasons which we shall investigate presently. And 
even when it wishes to construct, it often assumes, im- 
plicitly or explicitly, that when an undesirable attitude 
is suppressed, the contrary desirable one will develop. 
And, of course, if there is in individual temperament 



INTRODUCTION 39 

a possibility of the desirable attitude, this supposition 
may be true. But the point is that by suppressing an 
attitude, whether for the sake of some other more 
desirable one or through fear of its undesirable mani- 
festations, we suppress at the same time all the possible 
lines of a further evolution that may have started from 
the suppressed attitude and resulted in something very 
desirable. The earlier the suppression, the greater the 
number of possibilities destroyed and the greater the 
resulting limitation of the personality. Well-known 
examples are the suppression of the adventurous spirit 
and of the critical tendency in children. 

The mechanism of suppression is double. A tem- 
^} peramental possibility not yet conscious is suppressed 
if given no opportunity to manifest itself in any situa- 
tion, for only through such manifestations can it be- 
come explicit and be evolved into a character-attitude. 
This form of suppression is attained by an isolation of 
the individual from all experiences that may give stimu- 
lation to endeavors to define situations by the unde- 
sirable tendency. The suppression of sexual attitudes 
and of free thought in religious matters are good 
examples of this mechanism. The second course, used 
when an attitude is already manifested, in order to 
prevent its further development and stabilization, is 
suppression by negative sanction; a negative value — 
punishment or blame — is attached to the manifesta- 
tion of the attitude, and by lack of manifestation the 
attitude cannot evolve. But both mechanisms are in 
fact only devices for postponing the development of 
the undesirable attitude until a character is fixed in- 
cluding the contrary attitudes, and it is only this 
fixation which does suppress the undesirable attitude 
definitively. 



V 



40 THE POLISH PEASANT 

But suppression is not always a necessary conse- 
quence of the evolution of character from temperament. 
Attitudes need to be suppressed only when they are 
inadequately qualified and thus interfere with more 
desirable ones when meeting in the same field of social 
experience. For example, unqualified spirit of ad- 
venture and a tendency to regulated life, unqualified 
sexual desire and claims of social respectability, un- 
qualified wish for pleasures and recognition of familial 
obligations are, indeed, more or less irreconcilable with 
each other. But one of the fundamental points of the 
development of character from temperament is pre- 
cisely the qualification of attitudes with respect to 
definite social contents, and if this qualification begins 
in time and the attitudes are determined with suffi- 
cient precision, there may be no opposition between 
them at all and none of them needs to be socially 
harmful. 

The principle that permits the harmonizing of 
opposite attitudes without impairing the consistency 
of character is, in general, distinction of applicability 
of attitudes. The situations involved must, of course, 
be classed in advance so that certain features of a given 
complex of values may be a sufficient criterion for the 
application of one attitude or another. Many criteria 
are given by social tradition;^ the conventionalization 
of certain attitudes in certain circumstances permits 
of their preservation together with others to which they 
are opposed. The criteria are of various kinds. They 
may consist, for example, in a time-limitation. Vaca- 
tion is considered a time when some of the spirit of 
adventure suppressed during the year may be ex- 
pressed. Or it may be a limitation in space, as when 
certain behavior is permitted at a certain place, like 



INTRODUCTION 



41 



the dropping of social forms and the relative freedom 
of relations between the sexes at bathing resorts. 
Sometimes the occasion is ceremonial, as in the hilarity 
of evening parties and the drinking at social meetings. 
On other occasions a certain attitude is assumed to be 
excluded from situations to which without the con- 
ventionalization it would apply. Thus, the sexual 
attitude is theoretically not applied to passages in the 
Bible bearing on sexual questions, or to an artist's 
model, or in medical studies and investigations and in 
legal works. More important cases of conventionali- 
zation are found when a whole line of organized activi- 
ties, with the corresponding attitudes, is permitted 
under circumstances carefully circumscribed and usually 
designated by some social symbol. Thus, marriage is 
a conventionalization of the woman's — to some extent 
also the man's — system of sexual attitudes, besides 
being a familial organization. War is the convention- 
alization of murder, plundering and arson, diplomacy 
a conventionalization of cheating and treachery. Free- 
dom of theoretic investigation has attained a social 
conventionalization in the physical sciences but not 
yet in human sciences — philosophy, sociology, his- 
tory, history of literature, economics. 

In every case the dividing line between the fields 
of applicability of two contrary attitudes can be drawn 
by or for the individual even if no general rules of 
division are laid down by society. The only difficulty 
is that every attitude if allowed to develop freely tends 
to an exclusive domination of the whole field of experi- 
ence to which it can be applied. Of course this is not 
true of every attitude of every individual, but there is 
probably not a single attitude which does not in some- 
body tend to assume such an importance as to conflict 



\ 



42 THE POLISH PEASANT 

t 

with others. The principle of right measure and har- 
mony of virtues, developed by Greek ethics, expressed 
precisely the need of such a limitation of attitudes. 
V"" X But it is evident that with a proper limitation ho atti- 

^y tude needs to be suppressed and all the temperamental 

possibilities can be allowed to develop without leading 

to internal contradictions and impairing the consistency 

of character. The principle through which any atti- 

j tude can be made not only socially harmless but eyen 

\ j I useful, is sublimation. It consists in turning the atti- 

,1-' tude exclusively toward situations that have in them 
\ an element endpwed with social sacredness. We can- 

k^^/ not analyze the latter concept now; we shall do it 

. ^ y, another time. At present it is enough to point out 
»S that an object is socially sacred when it provokes in 
\ members of the group an attitude of reverence and 

when it can be profaned in the eyes of social opinion, by 
being connected with some other object. There are 
many degrees of social sacredness; an object that may 
appear as sacred in comparison with another may be 
itself a source of profanation of a third. Thus, busi- 
ness has a feature of sacredness which becomes manifest 
when it is interfered with by frivolous things like drink- 
ing or the company of women of the demi-monde; but 
its sacredness is not very high since it can easily appear 
as profane when it interferes with scientific or religious 
interests. And even so highly sacred an object as a 
scientific congress or a formal religious meeting may 
seem profane as compared with a particularly eager and 
difiicult pursuit by the individual of the solution of a 
great theoretic problem, the ecstasy of a mystic, or the 
preservation of the society itself from destruction or 
devastation by an alien enemy. And of course the 
degree of sacredness attached to different objects varies 



INTRODUCTION 43 

from group to group and from time to time, and some 
still current contrarieties, such as the fight for superi- 
ority of sacredness between art and morality, religion 
and science, patriotism and internationalism, show that 
in certain lines a general understanding even within 
a single group may be hardly (>ossible at a given mo- 
ment. But in spite of all these variations of sacredness 
there are, from this point of view, higher and lower 
forms possible for every attitude, dependent on the 
relative degree of sacredness of the situations which 
it defines. Thus, the spirit of adventure may manifest 
itself in a criminal's career, in a cow-boy's or trapper's 
life, in the activity of a detective, in geographical or 
ethnographical exploration; the desire for money, in 
stealing, gambling, "living by one's wits," commercial 
activity, great industrial organization; the sexual atti- 
tude may manifest itself in association with prostitutes, 
in relations, short but not devoid of individualization, 
with many girls and married women, in an ordinary 
marriage for the sake of the regulation of sexual life; 
in romantic love, in artistic creation, in religious mys- 
ticism. Even such attitudes as seem essentially harm- 
ful, as the desire of shedding blood, may become 
sublimated; the butcher's activity represents a lower 
degree of sublimation, surgery the highest. 

To sublimate an attitude we must develop an appre- 
ciation of its higher forms, which then becomes a factor 
of evolution and eventually results in a depreciation 
of its lower manifestations. The feeling of social 
sacredness can arise in the individual only in close 
contact with a group which has definite standards of 
sacredness; more than any other feeling it needs a 
continual and permeating influence of social opinion 
and is likely to be lost without the support of the en- 







44 THE POLISH PEASANT 

vironment. But the social group does not always 
provide ready methods for the sublimation of all the 
attitudes which need this stimulation; its standards 
of sacredness are incomplete, often contradictory, and 
not extended to all the values to which they ought to 
be applied. The individual's own initiative must there- 
fore supplement the social influences. When the feel- 
ing of social sacredness is once strongly developed with 
regard to a larger number of values the individual will 
be able to sublimate spontaneously social attitudes 
whose sublimation is not providted for by social tradi- 
tion, by extending old standards of social sacredness 
to new values or by creating new standards. And as 
he needs social support to maintain his new valuations, 
he will try to convert his environment, to impart to 
others his reverence for things whose sacredness they 
have failed to recognize. 

The principles of discrimination of situations to 
which contrary attitudes should be applied and of sub- 
limation of socially forbidden attitudes allow a rich 
and consistent character to develop without suppres- 
sions from any source, temperamental or social. The 
individual spontaneously tries to preserve his tempera- 
mental attitudes, and as he can do this only by remov- 
ing contradictions between attitudes contending for 
supremacy and by sublimating attitudes that can find 
no expression in his milieu, and since society never gives 
him all the ready conventions and the whole hierarchy 
of sacredness that he needs, he is naturally led to create 
new discriminations and new valuations, and becomes 
a creative type simply by fully developing all of his 
possibilities. The only task of social culture is to pre- 
pare him for this creation by teaching him the mechan- 
ism of discrimination and sublimation in general, and 



INTRODUCTION 45 

not interfering with his efforts to preserve all that he 
is able to preserve of his individuality. It is the sup- 
pression that produces the two other fundamental 
characters, the Philistine and the Bohemian. If so- 
ciety is successful in repressing all the possibijities that 
seem directly or indirectly dangerous until a character 
is formed which excludes them once and forever, then 
the product tends to be an individual for whom there 
are no problems of self-development left, no internal 
contradictions to solve, no external oppositions to over- 
come — a limited, stable, self-satisfied Philistine. If, 
on the contrary, the suppression is unsuccessful and 
the rebellious attitudes break out before a sufficiently 
stable set of contrary attitudes is formed, the individual 
is unprepared to meet the problems that arise, unable 
to discriminate or to sublimate, and an inconsistent, 
non-conformist, Bohemian type develops, which in its 
highest form, as artist, thinker, religious reformer, 
social revolutionist, may even succeed in producing, 
but whose products will always lack the internal har- 
mony and social importance of the true creative type. 

2. The construction of a life-organization in con- 
formity with individual character may go on in two 
typically different ways. There may be ready social 
schemes which are imposed upon the individual, or the 
latter may develop his schemes himself, in agreement 
or non-agreement with those prevailing in his social 
environment. In the first case the scheme is usually 
given to the individual in an abstract form or through 
concrete examples, and then he is taught to apply it 
to the various situations which he meets by chance or 
which are especially created for him. In the second 
case he works out himself a definition of every new 



46 THE POLISH PEASANT 

situation in conformity with his existing attitude, which 
grows in definiteness as the solved situation acts back 
upon it, and out of these definitions he gradually con- 
structs a schematism. 

Education gives us many examples of the first 
method. The inculcation of every moral norm, precept 
of behavior, logical rule, etc., follows this course. The 
formula or example is easily communicated; the dif- 
ficulty begins with its application. It may happen 
that the individual has already defined situations 
spontaneously as the rule demands; then he accepts 
gladly the formulation of his own behavior which 
solves in advance the problem of reconciling this part 
of his life-organization with the social organization of 
the group. The well-known educational device is pre* 
cisely to find among the individual's own actions such 
as are in accordance with the rule and then to state 
the rule as an induction from his own behavior. This 
is really an introduction of the second method, the one 
of spontaneous development, into the field of education. 
More frequently it happens that the individual has 
the attitude nectessary to define situations in accordance 
with the rule, but the attitude lacks the determination 
that it needs to express itself in action, has not attained 
the consciousness of its social object enabling it to pass 
from the sphere of temperament into that of character. 
If then the individual has one or two situations defined 
for him it is enough to make him imitate this definition 
in the future and accept the scheme as a rule of behavior. 
But the most common case is the one where the 
individual lacks the attitude which the social scheme 
demands. This is very general in the education of 
youth, where attitudes are developed progressively 
and the social group does not wait — and frequently 



INTRODUCTION 47 

cannot wait — for their spontaneous development, 
but forces the process so as to fit young people promptly 
into a social framework and have as little trouble with 
them as possible. Another general cause of the fre- 
quent failure of the social schemes to find ready response 
in the individual is their uniformity and stiffness./ 
The social schematism is not adapted to the variety ofj 
individuals but to the artificial production of a minimum! 
of uniformity. And even when this is successful the 
attitudes tend to evolve, not only in single individuals 
but also in the whole group, and this evolution is con- 
tinuous, while the schemes can be changed only dis- 
continuously, and so they remain behind — occasionally 
run ahead of — the social reality which they tend to 
express. From all these causes comes the continual 
and in a large measure fruitless effort to adapt the 
content of social life to its form — to produce attitudes 
to fit the schemes, while the contrary and more im- 
portant process must be left largely to the individuals 
themselves. 

The adaptation of attitudes to schemes may be 
pursued by two methods. The representatives of the 
social environment • can try to develop the attitude on 
the basis of some existing attitude by applying such 
social laws as may be known. This would be the nor- 
mal and successful method, but though it is sometimes 
applied, its success is now quite accidental, because, 
as we have indicated in the methodological note to 
Volume I, social technique is at present in a purely 
empirical stage, for there are scarcely any social laws 
definitely demonstrated. The only domain in which 
some consistent success has been obtained by this 
method is theoretic instruction. There at least it is 
clearly recognized that it is vain to try to force the 



48 



THE POLISH PEASANT 



\ 



• i 



individual to accept schemes, to define situations, to 
state and solve problems for which he has not yet the 
necessary preparation, and that new mental attitudes 
must be developed in a certain determined order and 
gradually. By the second and more usual method the 
individual is forced to define situations according to 
the imposed scheme, because to every situation coming 
under the scheme some sanction is added, some value 
which appeals to an existing attitude of the individual. 
But if the sanction is a more or less successful device 
in suppressing temporarily the manifestation of un- 
desirable attitudes until character is formed, it proves 
quite unsuccessful in developing desirable ones. The 
situation to which the sanction is added is quite dif- 
ferent from what it would have been without the sanc- 
tion; the scheme accepted is really not the scheme that 
society wanted to impose, but a different one, consisting 
fundamentally in an adaptation to the sanction, and 
the individual develops not the attitude demanded, but 
another one, a modification of the attitude provoked 
by the sanction. Thus — to take a familiar type of 
cases — by inducing the individual to comply with a 
moral norm through the fear of punishment or the hope 
of reward the idea of punishment or reward is added 
to every situation which demands the application of 
the moral norm. Then the situation is not the moral 
situation as such, but the moral situation plus the idea 
of punishment or reward; the scheme is not a moral 
scheme, but a scheme of prudence, a solution of the 
problem of avoiding punishment or of meriting reward; 
the attitude developed is not the moral attitude, but 
the fear of punishment or the hope of reward qualified 
by the given moral part of the situation. 

When the individual constructs his life-organization 



INTRODUCTION 49 

himself instead of having it imposed upon him by so- ) 
ciety, his problem always consists, as we have already / 
seen, in the determination of the vague. Any new 
situation is always vague and its definition demands 
not only intellectual analysis of the objective data but 
determination of the attitude itself, which becomes 
explicit and distinct only by manifesting itself in action. 
The definition of the new situation is therefore pos- 
sible only if a new corresponding attitude can directly 
arise out of some preceding one, as its qualification or 
modification in view of the new values, and this deter- 
mination of the attitude is in turn possible only if the 
new situation can be defined on the ground of some 
analogy with known situations — as an old problem 
viewed from a new standpoint. This explains why an 
entirely new situation which has no analogies in the 
past experience of the individual remains practically 
undefined even if it is understood theoretically; the 
individual may know all the values that are there, he 
may know how others define such a situation, and still 
all this remains practically meaningless to him. But 
when the scheme has once been formed it becomes 
itself a great help in developing new attitudes and 
defining situations in a new way. As long as the 
scheme is not there the new elements appearing in 
individual character and experience are not sufliciently 
noticed. There is still a lingering of the past, a con- 
scious or unconscious effort to interpret the new in 
terms of the old, to consider the recently formed type 
of behavior as a mere variation of the pre-existing type. 
The constitution of a new scheme at once makes con- 
scious the evolution that has been accomplished — 
sometimes even makes the subject exaggerate its im- 
portance. In its light the recent changes appear as 



50 THE POLISH PEASANT 

I examples of a new general line of behavior, acquire an 

objectivity that they did not possess, for the scheme 

can be communicated to others, compared with social 

rules of behavior and can even become a social rule of 

behavior — for such is the source of every social reform. 

The factor making the individual perceive and 

i define new situations is always his own, conscious or 

( subconscious, desire for new experience. There is no 

external power capable of forcing him to work out a 

new definition. Even the influence of natural or social 

sanctions, of punishment following an unsuccessful 

definition, presupposes some active effort on the part 

of the individual tending to define the situation in 

view of the punishment. Even the mere defense 

against an aggression disturbing a state of security 

would be impossible without a latent power making 

the individual face the new situation instead of running 

I away. The usual doctrine that new ways of behavior, 

new definitions, appear as a result of adaptation to new 

external conditions is based upon a quite inadequate 

conception of adaptation. The common idea is that 

adaptation marks a certain fixed limit to which the 

individual has to approach, because as long as he has 

not reached it he is misadapted, and various calamities 

force him to adapt himself. But where is such a limit? 

It must be different for various individuals. Napioleon 

was adapted to the conditions of French life after the 

revolution, and so was any one of his guards ; the honest 

and solid real estate owner is as well adapted to the 

onditions of city life as is the successful pick-pocket. 

Lnd it must change for every individual; the errand- 

oy who becomes a millionaire is no less adapted to 

is environment during his youth than in his later life. 

F adaptation means anything, it can be only a har- 



INTRODUCTION 51 

monious relation between individual claims and in- J 
dividual control of the environment; the harmony can! 
be perfect whatever the range of claims and of control. ' 
But then the concept of readaptation to a changed 
environment loses its seeming precision. By an analogy 
with biological theories, the meaning that is given to 
readaptation in sociology is usually this, that the indi- 
vidual attains in the new conditions a range of control 
and claims relatively equal to those he had in the old 
conditions. This equality is not particularly difficult 
to determine in biology where for every organism a 
certain minimum can be fixed and the living being 
seldom goes far beyond this minimum. But how shall 
we fix a minimum of claims and control in social life? 
And without this the meaning of equality of range of 
adaptation becomes very unclear. 

The real point is not adaptation as a state reached 
at a certain moment, but the process of the widening 
or narrowing of the sphere of adaptation. And this 
depends essentially upon the iq^iyiduaL-hiniself, not 
upon his environment. If the individual is satisfied 
with what he can^^^ctrout of the given conditions he 
will not try to set and solve new problems, to see more 
in the situations he meets than he used to see or to find 
in his environment a greater complexity of situations 
than he used to find. The dissatisfaction which the 
individual feels with what he can get out of given con- 
ditions arises frequently, indeed, when an external 
change makes it impossible to get the same results with 
the same efforts, but even then the individual may as 
well resign the results as increase his efforts. The 
course he selects depends on the prevalence of the de- 
sire for new experience over the desire for stability, 
the first pushing him to find new methods and to widen 



I 

I 



52 THE POLISH PEASANT 

the sphere of activity in order to preserve the old 
claims, the second tending to preserve the old form and 
range of activity in spite of the changed conditions and 
to be satisfied with the results that can be obtained in 
this way. But in modem human society dissatisfac- 
tion with the given is far more frequently expressed as 
desire for the new, and even external changes in the 
given conditions are often only an unconscious or con- 
scious pretext to satisfy this desire by justifying the 
individual in leaving these conditions for others. A 
typical example is emigration. Thus, in Poland the 
conditions of the peasants' life are now much better, 
in spite of the rapid increase of population with which 
the growth of cities does not keep pace, than they were 
fifty years ago. But the subjective tendencies are not 
the same. A desire for economic progress has arisen, 
the opening of new fields for the satisfaction of this 
desire provokes a latent dissatisfaction with the old 
life, and the slightest change for the worse, which could 
be remedied with a little effort, is often enough to make 
the peasant start to America. 

With the formation of schemes it is different. A 
new scheme which the individual finds to express his 
new way of defining situations is not the result of the 
desire for new experience, but, on the contrary, the 
result of the desire for stability. Behavior that is not 
schematized, not generalized, but is or seems to be 
different from moment to moment and in disaccordance 
with the previously recognized rules calls after a time 
for recognition and justification, provokes a desire for 
a settlement. Moreover there are always plans to be 
made for the future requiring a conscious stabilization 
of the individual's own activity. And thus, even Inde- 
pendently of social demands which make the individual 



INTRODUCTION 53 

search for security in determined systems and which 
we shall study presently, the individual, after a longer 
or shorter period during which new forms of behavior 
are developed, wants to fix his acquisition in a stable 
formula. And when such a moment comes, if the 
individual is unable to create his own scheme, he is 
ready to accept any one that is given to him and ex- 
presses more or less adequately his new way of defining 
situations. This explains such striking cases as the 
sudden "conversion" of individuals whose intellectual 
level is much above the doctrine to which they are 
converted, the influence that people of a limited in- 
tellectual power but of strong convictions can occasion- 
ally exercise over much more profound, but doubting 
personalities, and the incomprehensible social success 
of self-satisfied mediocrities during periods of intel- 
lectual unrest. Anything may become preferable to 
mental uncertainty. 

Although there seems to be little difference between 
the schemes spontaneously created or selected by the 
individual and the schemes imposed by society, in the 
sense that both correspond to the way in which the 
individual actually does define situations, the different 
processes of development lead to the formation of quite 
opposite life-organizations. It h clear that if the in- 
dividual learns to adapt his attitudes to the schemes 
given him he will always be dependent upon society and 
its ready schemes, and if society succeeds in imposing 
upon him a complete life-organization and in adapting 
his character to this, no further development will be 
possible for him unless his environment works out some 
new scheme; but even then it will be difficult for him to 
adapt himself to this new scheme in the degree that his 
life-organization and character have become stabilized. 



S4 THE POLISH PEASANT 

Or if he is temperamentally inclined to change he will 
pass from one form of behavior to another according 
to the schemes that actually happen to come in his way. 
/ A Philistine or Bohemian life-organization is thus the 
necessary result of this process in which schemes are 
imposed and attitudes are made to fit them. Bol- 
shevism is really nothing but the disorganization of a 
society that was organized exclusively for Philistinism. 
On the contrary the individual who has learned to work 
out new schemes spontaneously will not be stopped in 
his evolution by the non-existence of a ready scheme 
nor disorganized at periods of social crisis, but will be 
able to construct progressively better schemes to suit 
his spontaneous evolution. His desire for stability 
itself will lead him not to a limitation of his desire for 
new experience in conformity with a fixed, externally- 
given scheme, but to the elaboration of schemes that 
will be wide and dynamic enough to permit a develop- 
ment of behavior within their limits; we shall study 
presently the nature of these schemes. Thus an organi- 
zation of life in view of creation is the result of the 
spontaneity of the process in which the individual 
elaborates schemes to fit his developing attitudes. 

/ 3. We pass now to the social aspect of the problem 
/ 6f personal evolution. We have seen that the social 
'group tends to fit the individual perfectly into the 
/ existing organization and to produce a definite character 
i^ as rapidly as possible. This character must also be 
stable, so that no surprises need be anticipated from its 
future development; simple, so that any member of 
the group, however limited his mental capacities, can 
understand it at once; presenting a perfect unity, in 
spite of the multiplicity of individual activities; based 



INTRODUCTION S5 

on attitudes common to all members and socially de- 
sirable, so that each member shall appreciate it posi- 
tively. In other words, in its demands upon personal 
character society aims to stop individual evolution as 
early as possible, to limit the complexity of each per- 
sonality as much as is compatible with the variety of 
interests which it is required to possess, to exclude all 
real or apparent irrationality of its manifestations in 
different fields of social civilization, to reduce the dif- 
ferences between personalities to a minimum compati- 
ble with the social division of classes and professions. 

The tendency of society to produce such characters 
in its members is most efficient when the social en- 
vironment is a primary group in which all his activities 
are enclosed. In such a group, as, for instance, a 
peasant community, all the individual interests are ', 
supposed to be subordinated to the predominant social 1 
interest, because all the values — hedonistic, economic, \ \ 
intellectual, aesthetic — which ■ are within the reach of 
the individual are included in the stock of civilization 
of his primary group and controlled by it. Exfiiy 

cultural problem reaches thf i ]nr^iV;rln*>l r^Tt\y j^j^rnngh th<> ^ 
jnediacy of this group, which, because of the immediate 
character of the relations between its members, is for 
each member the primary and fundamental complex 
of values; all other values are continually referred to 
this complex and draw their positive or negative char- ^ 
acter directly from this reference. The continual 
tendency of social education in such a group is to have 
each individual appreciate every object from the stand- 
point of the attitude of the group toward this object. 
Every situation is first of all treated as a social situa- 
tion and only secondarily as an economic, religious, 
sexual, aesthetic, intellectual one. 



56 THE POLISH PEASANT 

The adaptation of the individual to the primary 
group requires, therefore, that all his attitudes be sub- 
ordinated to those by which the group itself becomes 
for him a criterion of all values. These fundamental 
social attitudes are the desire for response y corresponding 
to the family system in the primary group-organization, 
and the desire for recognition^ corresponding to the 

\^ traditionally standardized systems of social values upon 
which the social opinion of the community bases its 
appreciations. The desire for response is the tendency 

. to obtain a direct positive personal reaction to an action 
whose object is another individual; the desire for recog- 
nition is the tendency to obtain a direct or indirect 
positive appreciation of any action, whatever may be 
its object. The desire for response is the common 
socio-psychological element of all those attitudes by 
which an individual tends to adapt himself to the 
attitudes of other individuals — family affection, friend- 
ship, sexual love, humility, personal subordination and 
imitation, flattery, admirative attachment of inferior 
to superior, etc. Of course each of the attitudes in- 
dicated by these terms is usually more or less compound 
and contains other elements besides the desire for 
response. Those other elements may range with re- 
gard to their social bearing from the most altruistic 
and self-sacrificing love of another personality, becom- 
ing almost independent of the response actually ob- 
tained, to the most calculating and egotistic tendency 
to use the responses of the other personality as mere 
instruments for the attainment of social ends ; and yet 
the desire for response as such and independently of 
its further consequences is hardly ever absent even in 
the most radical examples of these contradictory atti- 
tudes. It is clearly an egotistic attitude and yet it 



INTRODUCTION 57 

contains a minimum of altruistic considerations. Its 
egotistic side makes it the most general and on the 
average the strongest of all those attitudes by which 
harmony is maintained and dissension avoided between 
the members of a group; it may be qualified, therefore, 
as representing the lowest possible, and yet precisely, 
therefore, in the large mass of mankind, the most efii- 
cient positive type of emotional morality. \ \ 

The desire for recognition is the common element 
of all those attitudes by which the individual tends to 
impose the positive appreciation of his personality upon 
the group by adapting his activities to the social stand- 
ards of valuation recognized by the group. It is found, 
more or less connected with other attitudes, in showing- 
off, pride, honor, feeling of self-righteousness, protec- 
tion of inferiors, snobbishness, cabotinism, vanity, am- 
bition, etc. It is the most common and most ele- 
mentary, and probably the strongest factor pushing 
the individual to realize the highest demands which the 
group puts upon personal conduct, and, therefore, con- , 
stitutes probably the primary source of rational morality. 1 1 

These two fundamental social attitudes supplement ' |/ 
each other, in normal conditions, in producing the 
general basis for a unified character, such as is needed 
in and demanded by the primary group. If they some- 
times conflict — as when the desire for recognition 
impels the individual to ignore the attitudes of his 
family when its standing in the community is low — 
the existence of a conflict usually shows a certain dis- 
organization of the primary group itself; as long as the 
latter is consistent and strong the two fundamental 
social attitudes are more apt to strengthen each other 
than to conflict; for instance, family solidarity in the 
peasant community is one of the grounds of recogni- 





SB THE POLISH PEASANT 

tion, and a high recognition shown to a member by 
the community may produce in the relatives of this 
member a readiness to respond to him proportionate 
to the degree in which they are influenced by social 
opinion. 

It is clear that an individual dominated by these 
attitudes, if he stays permanently within a primary 
group, can develop the very kind of character which 
society requires. His personality will be relatively 
stabilized at an early period — a good example is the 
precocious maturity of young people of the peasant 
class — his, character will be relatively simple, because 
primarily constituted by attitudes on the ground of 
which he can get response and recognition of many 
members of the group; i. e., by the most average and 
commonplace attitudes; it will present few, if any, 
important conflicts, for conflicts appear when the in- 
dividual has many incompatible interests, whereas 
here all interests are subordinated to the social inter- 
est; finally, it will be positively appreciated by the 
whole group, since all the members of the latter pos- 
sess and want to possess in a large measure similar 
tendencies. 

But such a stabilization and unification of character 
on the ground of the desires for response and recogni- 
tion becomes more and more rare with the progress of 
civilization. Even in the still existing primary groups 
it tends to diminish as members of these groups get in 
contact with the external world. Every attempt of a 
member of such a group to define his situations from 
the standpoint of his hedonistic, economic, religious, 
intellectual, instead of his social attitudes, is in fact a 
/ break in his character, and such attempts become 
more and more frequent as, through extra-commuaal 



INTRODUCTION 59 

experiences, the individual finds before him situations 
that are not connected with the primary group — for 
example, when in the city he has the opportunity of 
drinking without any ceremonial occasion, when he 
earns money by hired labor instead of working on the 
family farm, when he can have a sexual experience 
without passing through the system of familial court- 
ship, when he learns anything alone by reading and not 
in common with the whole village from a news-bearer, 
etc. But since the educational factors of his new en- 
vironment which might replace those of the old are not 
at first given him, and he is unable to develop a char- 
acter by his own efforts, such new experiences destroy 
the old unity of character without constructing a new 
one, and we witness partial disorganization from which 
only gradually new types emerge — the economic 
climber, the student, etc. And then the problem 
assumes a new form. 

A complex modern society is no longer in all its I / 
parts in immediate touch with its members. It is ^ 
composed, indeed, of small groups whose members are 
in personal interrelations; but none of these groups 
can enclose all the interests of the individual, because 
each one has only a limited and specialized field. There- 
fore individual character can be no longer unified upon 
the basis of the general desires for response and recog- 
nition, for even if these desires always remain funda- 
mental for social relations, they must be differentlj^ 
qualified in different groups. The kind of response and 
recognition the individual gets in his family, in his 
church, in his professional group, in his political party, 
among his companions in pleasure, varies within very 
wide limits. It is based now upon the special activities 
which constitute the object of interest of every special 



6o THE POLISH PEASANT 



group. Therefore the ground of the unity of character 
( .must now be sought in attitudes corresponding to these 
I ; activities ; the character of the social personality can 



■I 



9 



^ no longer be unified by a reduction of all special atti- 
'. tudes to a general social basis but by an organization of 
these attitudes themselves. 

But the difficulty is that each limited and specialized 
social group tends to impose upon every member a 
specific character corresponding to its particular line 
of common interests, wants him to be mainly, if not 
exclusively, a family member, a religious person, a 
professional, a political party member, a sportsman, 
a drunkard, etc., and expects his other attitudes to be 
subordinated to one particular kind of attitude. The 
iTjHi'vidii^l cannot fifltisfy rnmplf^tply th e claims of a ny 

of these grou ps, and he may either yield to the old 
social claim that he should possess an early, fixed, stable 
and simple character upon which society can count, 
and satisfy completely the claims of a specialized 
group, or he may reject all claims together. In the 
first case he can attain a unity of character only at the 
cost of a narrowness of interests such as no member of 
a primary group, peasant or savage, ever knows. Ex- 
amples of this are found among the professional types. 
Certain occupations, such as military service, school- 
teaching, the ministry, administrative service in a 
strongly developed bureaucracy, small shopkeeping, 
farming, housekeeping, tend to influence character in 
a measure sufficiently strong to produce types which in 
their fundamental features are similar in all societies. 
Occupational groups tend more and more to exclude 
from the sphere of their interests anything that is not 
directly connected with their "business," and an in- 
dividual whose character is formed by a modern profes- 



INTRODUCTION 6i 

sional group is the narrowest type of Philistine the 
world has ever seen, particularly if the profession itself 
does not aiford much opportunity for development.* 

But even so, the narrowness of the occupational 
type has probably not yet attained the extreme limit it 
is able to reach — and would reach if evolution went 
on undisturbed in the same direction as in the last two 
centuries — because social tradition still preserves some 
of the remnants of the old primary group conditions, 
in which the individual is supposed to share all the 
interests of his social group, and the latter includes a 
large variety of interests. An occupational group of 
the type of a mediaeval guild, though not 8atisf)ring all 
individual interests as completely as a peasant com- 
munity, appealed nevertheless to many interests be- 
sides the professional ones; it controlled individual 
character rather tyrannically, imposed a very definite 
complex of attitudes, but the complex was much less 
narrow than, for instance, the one which in recent times 
was imposed upon a Prussian army ofiicer. In the 
past the occupational group put both negative and 
positive demands as to what character and interests 
its members should possess so as to uphold the standing 
of the group within the larger society of which it was a 
part by taking a definite standpoint toward the most 
important social problems, even those which did not 
belong in the special domain of the group's profession. . 
But this type of occupational group, which seemed to 

' The ezdutive purtuit of certain hedonistic (at diitinguithed from esthe- 
tic) interesti, represented by the gastronomer and seducer, tends, indeed, to 
produce narrow characters, and men of this type are, in point of fact, often 
Philistine in their general dispositions, but because of the difficulty of finding 
groups in which these interests are exclusively pursued, and because of the 
social condemnation attached to them, they are usually pushed into 
Bohemianism. 



i 



62 THE POLISH PEASANT 

be intermediary between the old primary group and 
the modern forms of social organization, is clearly 
decaying everywhere, in spite of the occasional efforts 
to revive it. 

y'\.^ But precisely because of the growing specializa- 

tion of occupational groups, cases of character formed 
^y*' exclusively by adaptation to one occupational group 
y. are becoming less and less frequent. The modern in- 
dividual usually belongs to different groups, each of 
which undertakes to organize a certain kind of his 
^attitudes. But it remains true that the way in which 
I'v >/ these various complexes of attitudes are combined 

^ \ -^ ^. \usually shows a complete lack of organization. An 
individual of this type is a completely different man in 
his shop, in his family, with his boon companions, pre- 
serving his balance by distributing his interests between 
different social groups, until it is impossible to under- 
stand how such a multiplicity of disconnected, often 
radically conflicting characters, can co-exist in what 
seems to be one personality. This is a new style 
Philistinism — the Philistinism of the dissociated per- 
sonality, amounting to a sort of stabilized Bohemianism. 
And a striking feature of modern society, showing 
how little reflective attention is paid to the problem 
of developing organized and rich human personalities, 
is the fact that society does not notice this chaotic 
and mechanical stabilization of the character of its 
member, provided he shows himself properly adapted 
to the minimum demands of each of the special 
groups to which he belongs, and does not give an 
undue prevalence to one of his particular characters 
at the expense of others. The weakness of this 
Philistinism, in spite of the seeming broadness of 
interests which the Philistine exhibits, shows it- 



INTRODUCTION 



63 



self at periods of social crisis when old special groups 
break down. Each such breakdown brings a complete 
disorganization of the corresponding attitudes. A 
striking recent example is the sudden decay of intel- 
lectual life in American colleges and universities during 
the present war; all those members whose intellectual 
attitudes were organized in an exclusive adaptation to 
the routine of the institution and to the common 
educational pursuits of their limited intellectual milieu 
lost temporarily all ability to do productive work as 
soon as this routine was interrupted and the common 
pursuits dropped or diminished in vitality — unless 
they found in war work a milieu with intense common 
interests of another kind to which they were forced to 
adapt themselves. A wider and more complex example 
of a disorganization of individual characters resulting 
from a dissolution of common standards and pursuits 
in special groups is the often described and emphasized 
"lack of character" of the Russian middle and higher 
classes since the old social interests lost their influence 
on individuals. We may even make a more general 
supposition: The "moral unrest" so deeply penetrat-r| 
ing all western societies, the growing vagueness and ' 
indecision of personalities, the almost complete dis- 
appearance of the "strong and steady character" of 
old times, in short, the rapid and general increase of 
Bohemianism and Bolshevism in all societies, is an 
effect of the fact that not only the early primary group 
controlling all interests of its members on the general 
social basis, not only the occupational group of the 
mediaeval type controlling most of the interests of its 
members on a professional basis, but even the special 
modern group dividing with many others the task of 
organizing permanently the attitudes of each of its 



64 THE POLISH PEASANT 

tmembersy is more and more losing ground. The pace 
of social evolution has become so rapid that special 
groups are ceasing to be permanent and stable enough 
to organize and maintain organized complexes of at- 
titudes of their members which correspond to their 
common pursuits. In other words, society is gradually 
losing all its old machinery for the determination and 
I I stabilization of individual characters. 
^U^^ But under these conditions it is both illogical and 
impractical to continue to treat the formation of stable 
characters as the chief aim of social education. Our 
pedagogical and ethical concepts and methods cor- 
respond to a stage of civilization when individual at- 
titudes were sufficiently stabilized at an age between 
sixteen and twenty-five to permit practical reflection 
and social control to ignore their subsequent evolution 
as insignificant. It was then all right to identify 
social maturity and stabilization of character, to assign 
to both a term approximately coincident with physical 
maturity, and to consider the period of change pre- 
ceding stabilization as a-mere preparation for the latter. 
But when the limit of an even approximate fixation of 
attitudes is pushed further and further, when the in- 
dividual continues to evolve psychologically long after 
having reached biological maturity and social pro- 
ductivity, the social importance of the period during 
which he is changing increases at the expense of the 
period during which he remains approximately stable. 
For a modern civilized personality the fixation of 
character begins to identify itself more and more not 
with the attainment of maturity, but with old age; 
it no longer expresses the establishment of full civil- 
ized life but corresponds with retirement from active 
civilized life, to a growing passivity and limitation of 



INTRODUCTION 

social interests. The center of pedagogical and ethi- 
cal attention must, therefore, be entirely shifted; not 
attainment of stability, but organization of the very 
process of personal evolution for its own sake should 
be the conscious task of social control. At the present ^ 

moment society not only lacks any methods by which I 

it could actually and continuously organize the change 
of attitudes of its members, but it is only beginning 
(in our experimental schools) to search consistently 
for methods of education by which the individual can 
be trained in his youth to organize his later evolution 
spontaneously and without social help. At present 
the individual who succeeds in producing for himself 
such a dynamic organization has to do it by his own 
devices, is forced to invent for himself all the methods 
of self-education which he needs without profiting by 
the past experiences of others, and must consider him- 
self lucky if his environment does not interfere with 
him too efficiently by trying to impose upon him a 
stable character. 

4. The chief social problem arising with reference 
to the relation between individual life-organization and 
social organization is the reconciliation of the stability 
of social systems with the efficiency of individual activi- 
ties, and the most significant feature of social evolution 
in this. line is the growing difficulty of maintaining a 
stable social organization in the face of the increasing 
importance which individual efficiency assumes in all 
domains of cultural life. 

In early societies we find individual efficiency en- \ 
tirely subordinated to the demand for social stability. . » 
All the social schemes of the group are connected, are 
parts of one whole, one large complex of social tradition, 



66 THE POLISH PEASANT 

/ ) and any innovation is considered a break not only of the 
(/ one particular scheme which it modifies, but of this 
entire complex.. There is, of course, no objective ra- 
tional ground whatever for taking the traditional 
schemes en hloc^ no finalistic connection between the 
corresponding activities; the real results of a change 
of practical methods in a certain line may have little or 
no bearing on the results of other traditional forms of 
behavior. Thus, a modification introduced into some 
social ceremony has nothing to do objectively with 
the technique of hunting or warfare, a new technical 
device in constructing houses has no direct effect upon 
the political organization of the group, etc. But the 
common bond between all these schemes lies in the 
character of sacredness which all of them possess in the 
eyes of the group as parts of the same traditional stock 
whose unity is ultimately founded on the unity and 
continuity of the group itself. The individual must 
make each and all of these schemes his own in order 
to be a full member of the group. If for the formation 
of his character the important point is that all his 
interests are satisfied within the group and therefore 
are supposed to be founded on his social interest, the 
essential thing about his life-organization is that he 
is supposed to share in all the interests of his group and 
to adopt all social schemes as schemes of his personal 
behavior. There may be some differentiation between 
individuals as to the relative importance which certain 
particular interests assume in their lives, but no special- 
ization in the sense of an absorption by some particular 
interests to the exclusion of others. Eath member of 
1 a primary group is by a gradual initiation introduced 
I into all the domains which compose the civilization of 
the group and is as all-sided in his activities as the 



INTRODUCTION 



67 



stage of civilization which his group has reached per- 
mits him to be. 

But this all-sidedness is attained at the cost of 
efficiency. There is a maximum of efficiency in each 
line which no member of the group can transgress, not 
because — as is the case on a higher level of culture — 
a higher eflSciency in one particular line would impair 
his activities in other lines in which he is also expected 
to be active, but because in each particular line the 
domination of traditional schemes excludes not only 
the creation of new and better working schemes, but 
limits even the possibility of extending old methods 
to new classes of problems. The only increase of 
eflSciency which is allowed and encouraged is the more 
and more perfect solution of traditional problems — 
an increase whose results are well exemplified in the 
perfection of primitive art and technique, in elaborate 
religious dtuals, in the reliability of information which 
much of primitive knowledge shows, in the perfect 
rational order presented by many complex early sys- 
tems of social and political organization, etc. Under 
these conditions, spontaneous social evolution is pos- 
sible only by an agglomeration of small changes which 
are not noticed at once but modify from generation to 
generation the stock of traditions while leaving the 
illusion of its identity. When, on the contrary, the 
primary group is brought rapidly into contact with the 
outside world with its new and rival schemes, the entire 
old organization is apt to break down at once, precisely 
because all the old schemes were interconnected in 
social consciousness; and the individual whose life- 
organization was based on the organization of his 
primary group is apt also to become completely dis- 
organized in the new conditions, for the rejection of a 



1; 



• , 



68 



THE POLISH PEASANT 



» . 



» V 



few traditional schemes brings with it a general nega- 
tive attitude toward the entire stock of traditions which 
he has been used to revere, whereas he is not prepared 
for the task of reorganizing his life on a new basis. 
This occurs very frequently with the European peasant 
who emigrates and we have given in our first two vol- 
umes examples showing that the peasants themselves 
realize the effect which the rejection of certain elements 
of this stock has on the total personal complex of 
schemes. 

But with the growing social differentiation and the 
increasing wealth and rationality of social values, the 
complex of traditional schemes constituting the civili- 
zation of a group becomes subdivided into several more 
or less independent complexes. The individual can 
no longer be expected to make all these complexes his 
own; he must specialize. There arises also between 
the more or less specialized groups representing differ- 
ent more or less systematic complexes of schemes a 
conscious or half-conscious struggle for the supremacy 
of the respective complexes or systems in social life, 
and it happens that a certain system succeeds in gain- 
ing a limited and temporary supremacy. Thus, among 
the ancient Hebrews, in some European countries dur- 
ing and after the Reformation, and in the early Ameri- 
can colonies, certain religious systems predominated 
over all other cultural complexes; in Russia and Prus- 
sia, up to the present war, a similarly dominant role 
was assumed by the state; in Poland and Bohemia 
during the nineteenth century the concept of national- 
ity, determined mainly by language, historial tradition 
and the feeling of solidarity, constituted the chief 
ground of social organization and was supposed to 
dominate individual life-organization; in societies with 



INTRODUCTION 69 

a powerful economic development like modern England 
and America the leading part is played by industrial 
and commercial schemes. The family system was 
until lately supposed to be the exclusive foundation of 
individual life-organization for women. During the 
present war, military interests have almost every- 
where taken the center of attention and imposed far- 
reaching modifications of the life-organization on all 
the members of western societies. 

But it is clear from the above examples that no 
special social complex, however wide, rich and con- 
sistent, can regulate all the activities which are going 
on in the group; the predominance of a complex is not 
only limited in time and space, but always incomplete 
and relative. Moreover each of the broad complexes 
which we designate by the terms "religion," "state,'* 
"nationality," "industry," "science," "art," etc., 
splits into many smaller ones and specialization and 
struggle continue between these. The prevalent con- 
dition of our civilization in the past and perhaps in the 
present can thus be characterized as that of a plurality 
of rival complexes of schemes each regulating in a \i 
definite traditional way certain activities and each H 
contending with others for supremacy within a given \y 
group. The antagonism between social stability and 
individual efificiency is under these circumstances 
further complicated by the conflicting demands put 
upon the individual by these different complexes, each 
of which tends to organize personal life exclusively in 
view of its own purposes. 

Whenever there are many rival complexes claiming 
individual attention the group representing each com- 
plex not only allows for but even encourages a certain 
amount of creation, of new developments, within the 




70 



THE POLISH PEASANT 



limits of the traditional schemes, for a complex of 
schemes which excluded new experiences as it does in 
the primary group would be unable to maintain itself 
in its implicit or explicit contest with other complexes. 
[Therefore the conservative groups which support any 
.'existing schematism want it to be alive, to be as adap- 
I table to the changing conditions of life as is compatible 
Iwith the existence of the traditional schemes. The 
amount of efficiency which a scheme makes possible 
, varies, of course, with the nature of the scheme itself, 
'; with the rigidity with which the group keeps the mere 
jform, with the rapidity of the social process. And 
thus society demands from the individual productivity 
in the line of his career; in morality it is seldom satis- 
fied with passive acceptance of the norms, with their 
limitation to old and known actions, but usually wants 
their application to new facts coming under their 
definition; in custom it is glad to see every extension 
of tradition; in science or art it greets with satisfaction 
every new work done in accordance with the traditional 
system; in religion it meets with joy every revival 
which proves that the old emotions can stir some mod- 
ern souls, every theoretic application of dogma which 
proves that the old conceptions can satisfy some 
modern intellects ; in family life everything is welcome 
that can enliven the content without changing the form 
of relation between husband and wife, parents and 
children; in politics, 'in law, in economic organization, 
every reform increasing the efficiency of the existing 
system without modifying it in the slightest is highly 
appreciated. 

The fact that most if not all social schemes are in- 
corporated in more or less comprehensive and sys- 
tematic complexes helps to maintain the feeling of 



INTRODUCTION 71 

their immutability. The unity of many special tradi- 
tional complexes is still almost as firmly established in 
modern civilized society as is the unity of its total stock 
of traditions in a savage primary group. The break- 
down of any scheme belonging to a traditional com- 
plex seems to imperil the complex itself. And the 
individual who might easily reject a single scheme will 
hesitate before rejecting the whole complex. How 
consciously and masterfully incorporation of the most 
insignificant schemes into a great system is often made 
is manifested by such examples as religion and legal 
state-control. In the Roman Catholic Church dis- 
accordance with the apparently most insignificant 
detail of the system of beliefs or an infraction of any 
rule of behavior is supposed to produce estrangement 
from the congregation, because it involves in social 
consciousness a break with the whole system; the 
individual must either admit that he is in error, recant 
and recognize the scheme — at least in the form of a 
confession and penance — or consider himself outside 
the church. In the same way, by breaking any law 
or ordinance of the state the individual is considered a 
rebel against the whole system of legal state-control 
and loses in fact his rights as member of the group, since 
he may become the object of any violence decreed as 
punishment for this break; the punishment becomes 
thus a forcible recognition of the broken scheme. The 
same method, with only less consistency and less power 
to enforce obedience, is followed in morality, in class- 
organization, even in customs, as when one break of 
social etiquette is sufiicient to disqualify a person as 
member of polite society, or one act opposed to tradi- 
tional morals sufiicient to make all "well-behaved" 



72 THE POLISH PEASANT 

members of a group disclaim every connection with the 
offending member. 

But such a traditional fixation of special complexes 
of schemes within which efficiency is required with the 
condition that all schemes remain recognized does not 
correspond at all with the spontaneous tendencies of 
individuals. First of all, the scheme represents for 
the evolving individual either the minimum of stability 
which he reaches after a period of changing active ex- 
periences, or the minimum of new active experiences 
which he reaches after a period of passive security. In 
other words, as long as the individual evolves, an activ- 
ity regulated by the scheme and efficient within the 
limits of this regulation does not represent a definite 
level; it corresponds always only to an intermediary 
stage, either of progression from the passive acceptance 
of socially imposed situations toward a creative ac- 
tivity free from all subordination to schemes, or of 
regression in the opposite direction. The individual 
may indeed oscillate, so to speak, from relative passivity 
to relative creativeness without going far enough in the 
first direction to become entirely inefficient, and with- 
out becoming so efficient as to have to reject the scheme; 
the less radical these oscillations, the more the indivi- 
dual's conduct approaches the average prescribed by the 
scheme. Such an individual represents then a social 
model of behavior in the given sphere; he is the moder- 
ately productive conservative, the famous juste milieu 
typt. Frequently, however, the individual goes on 
with a progressively intense and efficient activity, tries 
continually to find and to define new situations; his 
efficiency becomes then increasingly dangerous to the 
scheme, because even if activity begins in perfect con- 
formity with the scheme, the accumulating novelty of 



INTRODUCTION 73 

experience sooner or later makes the scheme appear 
insufficient. There are innumerable examples of in- 
dividuals who began creative activity with the firm 
intention of keeping within the limits of the traditional 
schematism and ended by rejecting it altogether. 
The history of morality, of science, of political and 
social reform, and particularly of religious heresies is 
full of such biographies. And therefore the social 
group which is the bearer of a traditional complex is 
mistrustful of the individual who is too creative, par- 
ticularly as the majority is usually composed of per- 
sonalities whose evolution tends to the opposite limit — 
to the purely passive acceptance of the formal elements 
of tradition and the repetition of old activities border- 
ing on habit. In normal times this passivity may be 
scorned by the active part of the group, but at moments 
of crisis we find the group condemning all "imprudent" 
innovations and falling back upon the most abject 
Philistinism as upon the only absolutely unshakable 
basis of security. 

The second difficulty concerning the adaptation of 
individual life-organization to the social complexes is 
the fact that while a complex has to be accepted or 
rejected in its entirety, since the group does not permit 
the individual to accept some schemes and to reject 
others, the individual in his spontaneous development 
tends to make a selection of schemes from various 
complexes, thus cutting across social classifications of 
schemes, and often including in his dynamic life- 
organization successively, or even simultaneously, ele- 
ments which from the traditional standpoint may seem 
contradictory. This difficulty iis increased by the fact 
that many — perhaps most — social complexes are 
not freely chosen by the individual, but their acceptance 



74 THE POLISH PEASANT 

is either expected to follow from a position that the 
individual occupies in the group from birth — as mem- 
ber of a certain class, a certain race, as male or female, 
handsome or homely, etc. — or from a position which 
is imposed on him in his early youth through a certain 
moral code, religion or form of education, or, finally, 
from a position which he is forced to take in order to 
satisfy his elementary needs — for example, marriage 
or choice of a profession. There are complexes pre- 
scribed for the son and the daughter, for the bachelor 
and the married man, for the girl, the wife and the 
mother, for the society person and the member of a 
lower class, for the adherent of a religious creed and the 
atheist, for the professional in any line, for the city and 
the country inhabitant, for the householder, the tenant 
of an apartment and the roomer, for the person who 
eats at home, in a boarding house or in a restaurant, 
for the pedestrian, the car-passenger and the owner of 
an automobile, etc. The individual who has a complex 
imposed upon him or accepts it voluntarily is expected 
to show the prescribed amount of efficiency — neither 
more nor less — in all the activities regulated by the 
schemes belonging to the complex, and is not expected 
to perform any activities demanded by a rival complex, 
or to invent any new schemes which may seem to dis- 
agree with the accepted ones. More than this, he is 
often required to abstain from activities which, even 
if they do not contradict directly the existing schema- 
tism, may take his time and energy from the perform- 
ance of the prescribed activities. 

It is obvious that this type of social organization 
disregards entirely the personal conditions of efficiency. 
The organization of schemes in a traditionally fixed 
complex represents usually a degree of methodical per- 



INTRODUCTION 7S 

fection sufficient to obtain from individuals an average 
anaount of efficiency, making each individual contribute 
in some measure to the maintenance of the existing 
social status, so that an activity organized in accordance . 
with the complex is indubitably more productive so- 
cially than an unorganized one. But no socially fixed 
complex of schemes in whatever line — economic, polit- 
ical, moral, scientific, aesthetic, religious — can obtain 
from any individual the highest amount of efficiency of 
which he is capable, not only because it prohibits 
creation beyond the limits traced by the schemes, but 
also because it ignores both the differences of personal \ 
endowment which make one individual more capable 
of performing certain activities than others and the 
variations of personal evolution which make the indi- 
vidual more efficient in a certain line at one period of 
his life than at another. The organization of activities 
demanded by a social complex is both impersonal and • 
changeless, whereas an organization which would ful- 
fill the conditions of the highest individual efficiency 
would have to be personal and changing. 

An unavoidable consequence of the now prevalent 
social organization is that the immense majority of . 
individuals is forced either into Philistinism or Bo- • 
hemianism. An individual who accepts any social 
system in its completeness, with all the schemes in- 
volved, is necessarily drifting toward routine and 
hypocrisy. A part of the system may satisfy his 
personal needs for a time, particularly as long as he is 
gradually assimilating and applying certain of its 
schemes, but the rest of the system will not correspond 
to his predominant aspirations and may be even op- 
posed to them. If the development of life-organization 
goes on spontaneously, the individual is gradually led 



\ 



76 THE POLISH PEASANT 

to realize the importance for his chief aims of even 
activities which originally did not appeal to him — his 
efficiency in the line of his main interest gradually 
spreads to many side lines — whereas if a life-organiza* 
tion is socially imposed, the personally uninteresting 
elements of the social complex cannot become personally 
attractive by being gradually connected with the in- 
teresting ones in the course of personal evolution, since 
this evolution is limited. As a consequence we find 
the original inefficiency along uninteresting side lines 
influencing even those activities in which the individual?, 
was actually interested at some period of his life, and 
the whole productivity in the given field drops below 
the minimum required by the group. In order to 
remain socially adapted, to avoid active criticism of 
the group, the individual has then to display in words 
interests which he does not possess and to invent all 
kinds of devices in order to conceal his lack of efficiency. 
This tendency to hypocrisy and pretense is greatly 
facilitated in such cases by the fact that the majority 
of the group is in a similar situation and is not only 
willing to accept any plausible pretension designed to 
cover individual inefficiency but even often develops 
a standardized set of "conventional lies'' to be used 
for this purpose, which every one knows to be lies but 
tacitly agrees to treat as true. 

If, on the contrary, the individual either refuses to 
accept certain of the schemes included in a social com- 
plex or develops some positive form of behavior con- 
tradicting in the eyes of society some of the schemes 
of the complex, he is forced to reject the complex in its 
entirety, and becomes thus, voluntarily or not, a rebel. 
His situation is then rather difficult, for society has 
not trained him to develop a life-organization spon- 



INTRODUCTION 77 

taneously and the social organization of the type 
outlined above opposes innumerable obstacles to such 
a development. With rare exceptions, he can do noth- 
ing but adopt some other ready system instead of the 
rejected one. But then the same problem repeats 
itself, and every successive attempt at complete adapta- 
tion to a new system after rebellion is usually more 
difficult than the preceding ones, both because the 
personal demands of the individual become better and 
better defined in opposition to social regulation and 
because each particular rebellion undermines the pres- 
tige of social systems in general. The usual conse- 
quence of rebellion is thus Bohemianism, a permanent 
tendency to pass from one system to another, attracted 
at first by the personally interesting sides of a system 
and soon Repelled by the personally uninteresting ones. 
The result is again unproductivity. 

Under such conditions the appearance of a really 
efficient, creative personality is actually a very excep- 
tional social happening, for it needs a very high personal 
ability and persistence to develop a dynamic individual 
organization for efficiency instead of adopting a static 
social organization for stability when social education 
has exclusively the second purpose in view, and only 
by a rare concurrence of circumstances individuals who 
have this high ability of developing without proper 
educational help happen to be left in peace to pursue 
their own self-made lines. And it is no wonder that 
the scarcity of creative individuals has led to the con- 
cept of the genius, and high efficiency is still treated as 
a prodigy. 

But the direction which social evolution has been 
gradually assuming in modern times seems to show that 
though the conditions outlined above are still predom- 



78 THE POLISH PEASANT 

inant in civilized society they cannot last long; a dif- 
ferent type of social organization is developing which 
begins to put higher demands on individual efficiency 
than on individual conformism. First of all, progress- 
ing specialization is continually subdividing the old 
social complexes into more and more narrow systems 
which can no longer constitute a sufficient basis for 
individual life-organization in any field. Thus, a 
modern scientist, business-man, technician, when forced 
by social division of labor to work in a limited and 
special line, does not find in this line an organization of 
even all the intellectual, economic and technical activi- 
ties which he can and wishes to perform. And on the 
other hand, there is a continually growing field of 
common values and common activities over and above 
the special systems, a political, economic, intellectual, 
aesthetic "universe of discourse," in which all the 
members of a modern society more or less participate; 
this field is incomparably smaller, in proportion to the 
totality of the civilization of the group, than it was in 
an early primary group or in the upper class of an 
ancient city-state, but it is much wider than it was, 
for instance, during the middle ages, and it is certainly 
wide enough to make every specialized individual 
realize the narrowness of his specialty and to opejEi 
before him wide horizons of possible new experiences. 
Thence the increasing tendency of modern society to 
" vagabondage '* in all forms — changes of residence, 
of profession, of political views, of religion, the decay 
of the family system as economic, hedonistic and edu- 
cational institution, Bolshevism in politics and eco- 
nomics. And when vagabondage is in fact impossible, 
substitutes are sought which satisfy this tendency at 
least in imagination. This is the chief role of the popu- 



INTRODUCTION 79 

lar literature of adventure, of moving pictures, of day- 
dreams, even, in a large measure, of alcoholism. The 
task of imposing any particular social systems as de- 
finitive frames of individual life-organization is rapidly 
becoming too difficult for modern society. 

And further, the demand for efficiency in every 
particular line is rapidly growing; efficiency begins to 
be appreciated even at the cost of conformity. This 
most important evolution seems to be brought by a 
radical change of relations between different social 
complexes, different lines of social activity. Mere 
specialization of social activity begins to be consciously 
supplemented by a growing organization of specialized 
lines. Struggle between social complexes is gradually 
supplanted by co-operation; the field of application 
of each complex is more and more frequently defined 
by distinction from rather than by opposition to other 
complexes. This evolution is almost completed in the 
economic field, is rapidly progressing in the fields of 
science, and is beginning to penetrate everywhere. 
Thus, the modern state is a highly developed system of 
the old style, claiming supremacy over other systems, 
but even there the idea that the state is only an instru- 
ment of the national life is being recognized and pro- 
claimed. And when internal struggles lose their tradi- 
tional form of physical conflict the chief reason for the 
internal supremacy of the state over other domains of 
the cultural life of a nation will be gone. Now, wher- 
ever co-operation between systems takes the place of 
struggle, the demand for conformity loses its power in 
the very measure in which each group engaged in 
special activities accepts as ultimate aim of these 
activities not the preservation of a traditional complex 
against all external influences, but a contribution to the 



I 

i 



80 THE POLISH PEASANT 

general development of civilization. At the same time 
co-operation requires that certain results be reached 
independently of the question whether they are reached 
by traditional methods or by new ones; calls for effi- 
ciency come to every line of social activity from other 
lines, and the more frequent and insistent they become 
the more necessary it is to leave to every individual as 
much freedom as is compatible with efficient co-opera- 
tion. In certain lines we find, indeed, the division of 
labor resulting in a separation between inventive and 
organizing activities on the one hand and mechanical 
activities on the other hand, but the best sign of the 
changed social attitudes is that this separation is not 
accepted calmly by social consciousness but has become 
one of the great social problems to be solved by con- 
scious efforts. 

It is clear that these new characters of modem social 
evolution require an entirely new standpoint with 
reference to individual life-organization. The indivi- 
dual must be trained not for conformity, but for effici- 
ency, not for stability, but for creative evolution. And 
we cannot wait until new educational methods are de- 
veloped by the slow and groping way of unorganized 
and unreflective empirical trials. We must realize 
that social education in the past, viewed from the 
standpoint of the human personality, has always been 
a failure and that whatever social progress and what- 
ever personal development has ever been achieved was 
due to the spontaneous constructive power of indivi- 
duals who succeeded, not thanks to social help but in 
spite of social hindrances. The best that society has 
ever done for its members was to put at their disposal 
materials for creative development by preserving values 
produced by the past. The task of future society will 



INTRODUCTION 8i 

be not only to remove obstacles preventing spontaneous 
personal development but to give positive help, to 
furnish every individual with proper methods for 
spontaneous personal development, to teach him how 
to become not a static character and a conformist, but 
a dynamic, continually growing and continually crea- 
tive personality. And such methods can be found only 
by socio-psychological studies of human individuals. 

The present volume represents an attempt to ana- 
lyze and to reconstruct a personal life-record from the 
standpoint outlined above and by the methods of social 
psychology as determined in the methodological note 
prefacing Vol. I of this work. The material of our 
study is the autobiography of a Polish immigrant, 
written at our request three years ago. We hardly 
need to emphasize that the interest of this autobi- 
ography is exclusively scientific, not historical; the 
personality of the author is entirely insignificant from 
the point of view of the cultural development of Polish 
society, since he is a typical representative of the cul- 
turally passive mass which, under the present condi- 
tions and at the present stage of social evolution, con- 
stitutes in every civilized society the enormous majority 
of the population and whose only role seems to be to 
maintain, by innumerable and indefinitely repeated 
routine activities, a certain minimum of civilization in 
mankind at large, without being able to increase this 
minimum otherwise than by slowly assimilating and 
reproducing, very partially and inadequately, a few 
of the new cultural values produced by a small minority 
of creators and inventors. But precisely for this reason 
a record of this type can claim a great scientific and 
practical importance — greater perhaps than that of 



82 THE POLISH PEASANT 

a creative man ; for only the study of the commonplace 
man can make us understand why there are common- 
place men. It will make us realize also that the greatest 
defect of our entire civilization has been precisely the 
existence of a culturally passive mass, that every non- 
creative personality is an educational failure. It will 
show the sources of such failures and thus open the way 
for a more successful social education in the future. It 
will be the deepest and the most efficient criticism of 
our social organization as inherited frofn the past. 
And such a criticism is most necessary at the present 
moment, when we are facing the greatest historical 
change that has ever taken place — a general demo- 
cratization of the world. The growing recognition that 
democracy is the only order compatible with our high- 
est humanitarian ideals must be accompanied by a 
growing understanding that the removal of political 
obstacles is only the first step toward this order, that 
what we call democracy has been mainly ochlocracy, 
and will be until the culturally passive mass becomes 
a thing of the past. 

The author of our autobiographical record, whose 
life is an alternation of periods during which he drifts 
into Bohemianism with periods of Philistinization, and 
shows a gradual increase of Philistine tendencies in the 
total curve of its evolution, exhibits thus both of these 
social failures and is typical not only for the study of 
each of them separately, but also for that of their com- 
bination, since many Bohemians sooner or later begin 
to tend toward Philistinism and there are hardly any 
Philistines who never showed Bohemian tendencies. 
Of course the type of Wladek Wiszniewski is deter- 
mined in its social content by its social milieu; we 
cannot understand it adequately without a certain 



INTRODUCTION 83 

knowledge of Polish society in general, and of the special 
section of Polish society to which this type belongs. 
Therefore our socio-psychological analysis presupposes 
an acquaintance with the materials and notes of Vol- 
umes I and II, which give an insight into the traditional 
social attitudes and values found in the peasant and 
lower city classes of Polish society\ On the other hand, 
Wladek's life-record throws a certam light on the evolu- 
tion which is going on in the lower stratum of Polish 
society. Wladek and his family are of peasant origin 
and often in touch with peasants, but no longer belong 
to a peasant community. Some of Wladek's relatives 
and Wladek himself live in towns and mix there with 
the lower city class — small merchants and hand- 
workers — but the family is not originally a part of 
any of the old lower town-communities, which were 
formerly as close and traditional groups as the peasants 
of a farmer-community. No definite social place can 
be assigned to the Wiszniewskis in the old class-system; 
in the new class-system they certainly belong to the 
intermediary class between the unskilled workmen and 
the lower-middle class. A few members of the family 
succeed in getting into the lower-middle class. But 
Wladek never had any opportunity of getting in touch 
with people of the higher-middle class — men with 
university education — and still less with people of 
the upper classes — the aristocracy of birth, wealth 
or mind. A few incidental meetings can hardly count. 
This is an important point, Rowing that he could no t 
get by direc t per sonal rela tions an y inte ][}ectual^ mor^l 
or aesthetic standards higher than those of his clas^. 
The light which the 8tu3y of Wladek's life-rec^ 
throws upon the evolution of his social milieu is tR 
necessarily one-sided. It shows the disorganizing effect 





84 THE POLISH PEASANT 

whick^the passage from an old to a new form of social 
organization has upon an individual if not consciously 
and rationally directed. In our fourth volume we shall 
study the other side of this evolution and show the 
positive and constructive results which can be attained 
by a planful and conscious reorganizing activity. In 
this respect, as in many others, Polish society has a 
particular interest for the sociologist, because as a 
consequence of its exceptional political conditions dur- 
ing the last one hundred and twenty years it has lacked 
certain elements of a normal social life and has de- 
veloped other elements to a degree seldom found in 
-jiormal conditions. Thus, the lack of a national state- 
J system giving a permanent and stable frame-work for 
I certain social activities and ready means of control has 
' forced the nation to develop reflectively purely social 
methods of voluntary organization by which social 
evolution could be controlled and has compelled it to 
put a greater emphasis than elsewhere upon individual 
efficiency, since the preservation and development of 
national culture depended much more on efficiency of 
personal activities than on social tradition, whose main 
foundations were destroyed. In so far as these new 
methods have been developed and applied the results 
have proved very valuable, and the passage of the 
lower classes from the old to the new social organization 
is effected without individual disorganization. But the 
abnormal political conditions have hampered the ap- 
plication of the new methods, so that at the beginning 
of the present war only a certain part of the lower 
asses had been rationally reorganized on the new 
asis; a large part still preserves, as we have seen in 
the first two volumes, the old primary group organiza- 
tion^ while the rest has already broken with the old 



INTRODUCTION 85 

forms of social life without being able to construct any- 
new personal life-organization. Wladek — for reasons 
which his life-record will show — belongs to the latter 
group. ^ 

But while our present study is limited not only to 
a certain society, but also to a certain class of this 
society and a certain epoch in the evolution of this 
class, this study should give us results applicable to * 
many societies, many classes and many epochs. The 
original object-matter of every science is constituted 
by particular data existing in a certain place, at a 
certain time, in certain special conditions, and it is 
the very task of science to reach, by a proper analysis 
of these data, generally applicable conclusions. And 
the degree of reliability of these general conclusions 
is directly dependent on the carefulness with which 
each datum has been studied in its concrete particu- 
larity. The same, of course, holds true of the study 
of human personality. Every individual whose per- 
sonal evolution we wish to use as material of social! 
psychology must be first taken and understood in 
connection with his particular social milieu before we 
try to find in him features of a general human interest. 
When we remember this methodological rule, we shall 
not fail to see in Wladek's personal evolution, however 
much it depends on the particular social conditions in 
which he evolved, numerous elements whose significance 
reaches far beyond his milieu and his time. We have 
indicated some of these elements in the conclusion of 
this volume, but the limits of the work did not permit 
us to develop all the general socio-psychological hy* 
potheses which the material suggested to us, and we 
have certainly failed to see the general meaning 
of many facts. Our readers will be able to draw 



86 THE POLISH PEASANT 

many inferences which we have not explicitly pointed 
out. 

We must add a few remarks about the document 
itself. Wladek was first induced to write his auto- 
biography by a promise of money, but ambition, lit- 
erary interest and interest in his own life probably 
became at once the main motives. He wrote with an 
astonishing rapidity. The original manuscript is al- 
most twice the size of the text which we are printing 
and was ready in less than three months.' This fact 
can be properly appreciated only if we remember how 
difficult is the technique of composing and writing for 
people of his class. Wladek seems to possess some 
real literary talent; the contrast is striking between 
the poor external form of the original — little punctua- 
tion, very bad spelling, numerous faults of Polish 
style — and the vivid, well composed, picturesque 
content. No additions whatever were made by us, 
except in brackets. 

The sincerity of the autobiography is unmistakable. 
Its source is the self-complacency of the author, who 
naively accepted the suggestion of the editors, thought 
everything about him as interesting to others as it was 
to himself and did not distinguish at all between scien- 
tific and immediate interest. There are, of course, 
cases of one-sided presentation of happenings and 
people, but we have usually indicated these in the 
notes. We do not discover any voluntary omissions 
in comparing his story with the letters from his family. 
We add at the end some extracts from these letters, 

' The compression to which we have subjected the document does not 
seem to have impaired its value for scientific purposes. The general char- 
acter of the details omitted is indicated by the resume in brackets. 



INTRODUCTION 87 

showing the light in which he appeared to his family. 
He does not seem to have intentionally lied. He did 
not know our standards, and any coloring or omissions 
can hardly hinder our understanding of his personality. 
There is another source of inexactness: he evidently 
does not notice certain sides of things. We have\ 
located two of these defects. He often does not see\ 
details in other people's attitudes that are unfavorable 1 
to his vanity, and his memory frequently shows a kind \ -, 
of negative hedonistic selection, recording rather the 
unpleasant than the pleasant details in certain epochs 
of his life. But both defects are very significant for 
the understanding of his character. We must also 
mention that the same attitude of naive immediate 
interest in his past life which is the source of his sin- 
cerity manifests itself in a curious variation of the 
mood of the autobiography in accordance with the 
situation described. There is little consistency of 
standpoint. He changes his standpoints during his 
description as he changed them during his life; for 
example, his momentary attitude toward any member 
of his family is dependent on just the phase of his 
relation with him that he happens to recall. 

If the reader wishes properly to appreciate this 
autobiography as literary work as well as sociological 
document, he must remember that it was written by a 
man whose educational opportunities were much below 
the average in America. His systematic instruction 
stopped on the level of a primary country school which 
under Russian domination included hardly anything 
more than reading and writing in Polish and Russian 
and some arithmetic. Later his wandering life never 
permitted him to get in touch with the private organi- 
zations for self-education which were scattered all over 



I I 



88 THE POLISH PEASANT 

Poland for the purpose of supplementing the deficien- 
cies of governmental education, because these organi- 
zations had to be kept secret. Thus, except for his 
occasional meetings with more instructed individuals, 
he had neither adequate external incentive nor proper 
advice for systematic self-education. His reading was 
poorly selected, chaotic and quantitatively insufficient. 
Taking all this into account, it seems quite possible 
that if born and educated in different conditions, 
Wladek could have become a prominent literary man, 
in spite or perhaps even because of his many morally 
deficient attitudes, which then would have become 
sublimated by being turned into the channels of 
aesthetic productivity. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 

My native village was Lubotyfi, in the province of Kalisz. 
This locality may unquestionably be called a beautiful landscape. 
The village itself had nothing charming about it. It was com- 
posed of ten houses, rather decently arranged for such a small 
village. There was an old-style brick church on the top of a 
hill, and further to the east was the priest's house, with its front 
to the highway leading through the village. To the south spread 
out a beautiful orchard belonging to the priest, and further to 
the west was the organist's house, where the organist himself and 
the church-beadle lived; along its right wing was another road 
leading to the cemetery, about half a wiorsta [i wiorsta « 3,000 
feet], and then into the wide world. On the other side of this 
road was the school-building — old, wooden, but rather neat, 
the garden which surrounded it on three sides dotted with flower* 
beds. Beyond the school were three other houses which attracted 
little attention. They belonged to the manor. In the first 
lived two fishermen and the shepherd; in the second, four drivers; 
in the third, the land-steward, the cattle-keeper and the watch- 
man. A few steps westward from the third house was the manorial 
farm-yard, also facing the highway. Its buildings were arranged 
in a square. Beyond the farm-yard was the manorial land. All 
these except the church and the priest's house were on the left 
side of the highway, when going from the west. 

On the right side, facing the end of the farm-yard, was a small 
wooden chapel, and in it, carved roughly, a statue of St. Theda. 
To the east of the chapel spread out the manor-garden, also 
arranged in a square, but divided by a road along which the 
manorial cattle were driven to the water. At the south side of 
the garden was a big lake, six wiorsta long and one wiorsta and 
a half wide, spreading out from west to east. In the middle of 
the garden stood the manor-house. It was old and wooden, but 
at the front of the house a beautiful alley of lime-trees led to the 
highway; at the rear were pretty flower-beds reaching to the 
lake; on the ri^ht and on the left was an orchard. Near the east 
side of the garden stood the forge, with its front also turned 
toward the highway; behind it lived two manor-servants. Near 
the forge was a footpath by which the people of the village went 

89 



90 THE POLISH PEASANT 

to the lake for water. The path was rather narrow — two could 
scarcely pass — and very steep, so that it was difficult to ascend 
when wet or frozen, for the village was upon a hill. On the other 
side of the footpath was the tavern, — old, enormous, built of 
unbumed bricks. On its east side stood a big horse-stable, with 
one side turned toward the tavern, the other toward the church.' 

Such was my native village. Now I must write a little about 
its environment; that is, about the splendid landscape which I 
mentioned above. On the south side we see the lake, in which 
the rays of the sun are reflected as in a mirror. As far as the 
eye can reach the lake is overgrown with dense reeds, out of which 
the song of the crested lark is heard from early morning until 
night. Upon the lake divers are sWimming, above it lapwings 
hover; on the shore we see some women washing linen, and around 
them a crowd of naked children bathing under the eye of their 
mothers. 

On the other side of the lake was a thick and rather large forest, 
where mushrooms, strawberries, blackberries grew abundantly, 
which we often went in a boat to pick. On the north side, scarcely 
one wiorsta from the village, was a wood which had the greatest 
importance for me, for many nuts grew there, which I often went 
to gather. On the west side was a forest about three wiorsta 
away, but I went to it seldom. On the east side was a fourth 
forest, about one wiorsta distant, where plenty of mushrooms 
grew. 

And thus Lubotyfi was surrounded with forests on all sides; 
precisely these forests and the lake made my village so beautiful. 

' Wladek's home was a typical manorial village, and its social character 
differs completely from that of a peasant village. The latter is a community 
of equals, in spite of differences of wealth, with a large amount of autonomy 
* in internal matters. There is religious dependence upon the priest, a remnant 
of respect for the noble, fear of the official, but the influence of the community 
is incomparably stronger than any external influences. In the manorial 
village all the inhabitants are more or less dependent upon the manor-owner, 
and there is the most minute social hierarchy from the manor-owner down, 
in the order of priest, steward, teacher, tavern-keeper, organist, butler, team- 
ster, blacksmith, carpenter, shepherds, etc., and finally, the common laborers. 
There is no real community, no unique and consistent social opinion, no per- 
manence of tradition; servility, desire to climb, with little opportunity to 
climb. In Volume II (Sekowski series) we have characterized this milieu. 
Although WSadek's parents were not really manor-servants they fitted per- 
fectly into this environment. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 91 

The forest on the south side came quite near to the lake; only 
a few yards of meadow separated them. This meadow extended 
in a narrow ribbon almost up to the village. It began again 
beyond the manor-garden and spread out as far as the forest on 
the west side. I had also much joy from it. I gathered the 
forget-me-nots which grew abundantly; I liked to put them 
around a plate. I strewed some sand on the bottom of the plate 
and thus, when watered often, they blossomed at home for a long 
time. But this was not all that adorned Lubotyn. I must add 
that in the triangle between the church and the tavern was a 
pondy and around it a meadow from which the tavern-keeper 
gathered hay. This triangle contained six morgs of land. The 
pond made the village still more beautiful, for on summer evenings 
it was pleasant to listen to the croaking of frogs, that were not 
silent until late in the night. And to this must be added the song 
of the nightingale that made its nest every year in the manorial 
garden.' 

Before I begin to write about myself, I must say who my 
parents were. In his youth my father was a blacksmith. He 
did this handiwork up to the time he was called to the army, where 
he remained for seven and a half years.* When he returned he 
got the post of land-constable in the small town of Wladysiawdw, 
in the district of Konin. There he got married. He was constable 
for fifteen years and made a small fortune.^ He opened a grocery- 
shop and succeeded well enough, so he closed the shop and rented 
the tavern in Lubotyfi, where I grew up, and not only I, but my 
five brothers and four sisters. Two of my brothers, Aleksy and 
Stanislaw, were bom in Wladysiawow, as well as two sisters, 
Florentyna and Marya. The rest of us came into the world in 
Lubotyfi. I was the third among the boys, but before Stanislaw 
and me came the two older sisters, then after me came Pawel, then 
Ludwik, then the sisters Zofia and Stefania, and the youngest, 

' To a boy of WSadek's class nature in Poland can have hardly any positive f 
educational influence; it does not, as in wilder countries, force the develop-/ 
ment of energy and enterprise, and the enjoyment of its aesthetic side hyj 
Wladek is evidently artificial, developed later under the influence of readinn 

* He served so long because he was a peasant. Wladek prefers not tp 
speak of his peasant origin. j 

* For the way in which this fortune was made, see Wladek's account ki 
his own career as constable. 



92 THE POLISH PEASANT 

Roman. At the epoch of my life which I begin to describe, 
Aleksy was already a small clerk in the court of Turek, my sisters 
Florentylia and Marya had finished school, Stanisiaw and I were 
going to school, and the younger sisters in turn, one after another, 
pastured the geese. My father had the right to keep 150 geese, 
four cows, and as many ducks, hens and pigs as he liked. The 
cows were in the manorial stable and the manorial cattle-keeper 
pastured them; the pigs also went together with the manorial 
pigs to the field. My parents had almost 200 geese every year, 
and many ducks and hens; in a word, we had all kinds of farm- 
stock. We had, moreovel', one morg of orchard and three morgs 
of field. My father paid 350 roubles of rent a year for all this. 
All this paid very well, however, for my father soon put a small 
capital aside. But I will write later about this; now I come 
back to tlie description of myself. 



I begin my description with the first day that I went to school. 
I was exactly six years old when my father took me by the hand 
and led me to the school, a few yards distant from our house. 
When the teacher learned what brought us to him he gave me a 
book and my examination began. Here I must mention that I 
knew already all the Polish and Russian letters well, for my older 
brothers and sisters had taught them to me at home. The teacher 
gave me a book, first a Polish, then a Russian one; I knew how 
to read well, so he patted my head and told me to sit down on 
the first, that is, preparatory bench. I sat down and began to 
look around the class-room. The teacher spoke for a while with 
my father, then they separated, and my studies began. At ten 
o'clock on the same day, during recess, some boys came to me 
and gave me a few knocks, which made me cry. When the 
teacher came I was still crying. He asked me what was the 
matter. I answered, half-crying, that the boys had beaten me. 
He laughed, patted me again on the head and said that it would 
not happen again. And it was true; they did not laugh at me, 
nor beat me any more. This made me bolder and gave me courage 
to learn. And so one day after another passed. The teacher 
was still a young man, and as he had only an old mother living 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 93 

with him, he came often enough to visit us. As he knew me well 
he treated me tolerably. My brother Stanisiaw helped me. He 
had been going to school for two years and learned very well; 
the teacher praised him, and my father promised him that he 
should be a priest if he continued to study well. Stanisiaw and 
I loved each other, so I never had any difficulty with my lessons. 
School began in November and ended in April, and the rest of 
the year was vacation. Then there was a merry life! Some- 
times I went fishing with a hook, sometimes to the forest in search 
of birds, or to pick mushrooms or berries. In a word, I was free. 

But my narrative begins with the winter. I spent the time 
free from learning in skating upon the ice with wooden skates. 
Even the teacher praised me to my father because I skated so 
well for such a small boy. The teacher himself liked skating 
very much, and more than once he took me by the hand and 
skated to the other side of the lake.' Once at noon he allowed 
us to skate; everybody had to bring a bit of firewood from the 
other side of the lake. All of us went, boys and girls, and there 
were more than a hundred children. We went as we could, some 
on skates, others sliding on their heels, the girls with us. I came 
to the forest first, and in order to please the teacher I took a 
piece from a wood-pile, tied a rope to it and drew it over the ice. 
Everybody else brought a piece of wood, some larger, some smaller. 
As a reward the teacher made a good fire in the stove the next 
day and I received a pigeon for having done so well, because I 
liked pigeons enormously.' I had about thirty of them, and I 
used every grosz which I succeeded in stealing from my father's 
drawer, in buying pigeons. 

So one day after another passed in going to school, and by 
spring I already knew how to read well and I could write a little. 
In the spring, when the school was closed, a worse wofk came for 
me, for I had to pasture geese, taking turns with my brother. 

* Wladek always mentions every trifling satisfaction of vanity experienced 
throngh the appreciation of his superiors. He makes no mention of his rela- 
tions to other children in school, and n owhere j hows a m arked te ndency to 
gain recognition throuj^h excellence amonjg;^ his equals. In a six-year-old boy 
the genefaTdemand for recognition could have taken either direction, de- 
pending on the environment. In an American boy it would have taken a 
direction opposite to that shown by Wiadek. 

' A frequent interest with peasant boys. C/. Volume II: 236. 



94 THE POLISH PEASANT 

One day he pastured them till noon and I pastured them in the 
afternoon; the next day I pastured in the morning and Stanislaw 
in the afternoon. On Sunday we did not pasture at all; father 
gave ten grosz to the manorial goose-boy to keep them the whole 
day, and we had the Sunday free.' But we were not allowed to 
go away from home until five o'clock in the afternoon. 

Here I must mention that my father was a very God-fearing 
man. As far as I remember he never omitted any divine service. 
So he educated us also very religiously. Every morning we had 
to kneel down all together and say the prayer. And father sat 
near us and saw to it that we did not hurry too much, and that 
we pronounced the words of the prayer distinctly. After the 
prayer each child had to kiss father and mother [on the hand] 
for good-morning. But God forbid that any of us should eat 
anything before the prayer! If any of us ever ate anything he 
did not get breakfast, and he had to kneel while the others ate. 
When father allowed him to rise he had also to thank our parents 
for the punishment and promise not to do it any more. This 
happened most frequently with me, for I was very greedy, and 
had to kneel often. The evening prayer had to be said in the 
same way, except that those who had been to confession had to 
say particular prayers as penance. After the prayer we had 
again, each separately, to kiss our parents' hands for good-night; 
and in the same way after every meal. On Sunday we had to 
pray from our prayer-books after breakfast, every one from his 
own; for as soon as any of us knew how to read a little he received 
a small prayer-book as gift. And God forbid that any of us should 

' Pasturing geese, hogs or cattle is the first stage of the gradual process 
by which the peasant boy develops the working attitude. The primary 
tendencies of the child are toward play and vagabondage, and pasturing repre- 
sents the elementary degree of the organization of his activity. From this 
half-vagabondage the boy passes to productive work without the intermediary 
stage of apprenticeship, without passing through any special period devoted 
exclusively to education, to the acquisition of working habits and methods. 
The necessary attitudes are developed slowly and gradually by a traditional 
process of incorporation of the individual into the social scheme of activity, 
and not by a conscious effort to develop first of all the individual as such. It 
is evident that the traditional method can bring adequate results as long as 
the individual remains within his group and within the sphere of the traditional 
interests and occupations; and because it does frequently bring ail the socially 
desirable results we can almost justify the attitude of the old-fashioned peas- 
ants who think school instruction unnecessary for their children. 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 95 

fail to keep it in good order! When we sat around the table, 
we were not allowed to talk at all, for father prayed, sitting apart 
from us on a chair, and said the ** crown'' [a determined series 
of paters and aves].' I disliked this Sunday prayer very much 
because I could not go outdoors, look at the pigeons nor chase 
them awhile with the other boys. So I used a trick* When I 
saw through the window that the pigeons were flying, I asked 
father for permission to go to the privy. When father gave me 
permission I went straight to the pigeons, and more than once 
the prayer was over by the time I got back. I always buttoned 
my trousers while entering the room and father said: "Well, 
you have been rather long at the privy." And he said nothing 
more.' Thus I succeeded in cheating my father many times, but 
once when I went out the same way my father spied me and saw 
that I did not need to go at all, and I got such a beating that I 
remembered it for ten years. For my father seldom beat us, 
but when he once began he beat and beat without measure, and 

' By the family prayers, still customary among the peasants and some- 
times among the higher country classes, a particular religious attitude is 
grafted by means of a rite upon the familial attitude of obedience, and not 
upon any pre-existing attitudes towards the problems which religion claims 
to solve. What is developed is not a belief or an emotion, but the habit of 
performing the rite, and this being a product of the attitude of obedience 
acquires an obligatory character independent of properly religious considera* 
tions. It may, therefore, last by a kind of mora l automatism even when 
religious emotions or beliefs Have Jl sappeare a. 

•TniF typifies very well the effects of the endeavor to develop new atti- 
tudes by external authority appealing to fear and based on physical sanction. 
The wish opposed by authority produces at first deceit, as a practical solution 
of the situation. If the wish were counterbalanced instead by another posi- 
tive wish, if the pressure were internal instead of external, we should have a 
moral conflict that could be solved only in tlie moral way, by an organization 
of attitudes. In the course of time the external pressure may indeed become 
internal; the fear of social authority may be changed into an objectless, inde- 
termined fear of yielding to the wish, and we then have that feeling of obli- 
gation of which we have just spoken as characterizing the performance of 
religious rites. The attitude thus acquired is a typical Philistine attitude, 
incapable of a^y spoqtaneous development and becoming more and more 
mechanical. At th^ g^'"^ V'lC t^^ Qririfl^l p^^hnd of solving a situation bv 
deceit is not lost but. continues to be applied in every case where a wish is 
opposed .by authority and the fear of authority has not been changed into 
the feeling of obligation. Possibly Wladek learns not to lie to his father, but 
he preserves the method of deceit during the whole of his life in all its social 
relations. 



96 THE POLISH PEASANT 

mother succeeded only with difficulty in appeasing him. The 
way our father beat us was this: he put my head — if it was I 
who was punished — between his legs so that the hind part pro- 
truded, and then beat with whatever he found under his hand, 
wood or iron.* Therefore none of us loved father. He could 
never boast of the love of his children. But nobody dared disobey 
father, even in a trifle, or answer him back, or above all things, 
lie to him. He loathed lying so much that he could almost have 
killed for a lying word; I experienced it myself. 

In a word, our father was not generous toward any of his 
children except our oldest brother, Aleksy. Father loved him a 
great deal and always said, "My dear son 01e§" [Aleksy].' Father 
loved him particularly, so he said, because when my brother was 
seventeen years old, and a clerk in the district court, he came home 
once for the holidays, and a blind man came at that time to our 
father's house asking for alms. When he had received something 
he requested father to see that he was taken to the other side of 
the town, and father then ordered his oldest son to take the poor 
man by the hand and lead him. He did it at once and afterwards 
the whole town pointed to him as an example for their sons and 
congratulated our father on having such a good son. Our father 
loved him for this, and also for earning something himself, for 
our father was very avaricious. One of his greatest pleasures 
was to count the money after closing the shop.^ My mother 

■ The beating of children is sanctioned by public opinion, but in this case 
we find two anomalies — the lack of measure in the father and the l^ck of 
affection in the children. They are explicable by the isolation of the marriage- 
group from the rest of the family. The father acts without familial control 
under the influence of passion, and the children bear a grudge for a punish- 
ment which they do not recognize as merited by any break of the socially 
established norms but provoked merely as a result of their transgression of their 
father's will. In general, the traditional attitude of head of a single marriage- 
group representing the authority of the whole family is changed in Wladek's 
^ther into a more or less personal despotism. 

' We do not explain the pet names and variants (/»g., Stach, Stas, Stasio » 
Stanislaw, Florcia » Florentyna, Kazia » Kazimiera, Helcia ^ Helena, 
Mania ^ Marya) when the context or resemblance seems sufficient. 

* The love of money develops here instead of land-hunger; the attitude 
of economic advance has not yet reached the stage where a continuous pro- 
gress is required and money treated merely as an instrument. Property in 
the form of money is here an end in itself, as in peasant life property in the 
form of land. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 97 

abused him much for this [trait] and thence small misunder^ 
standings sometimes arose. There was never any real quarrel 
between our parents. 

My mother had a more generous disposition, and cared more 
for the instruction of her children, and this displeased my father 
greatly, particularly when it came to paying for the instruction. 
He would not give a cent and was like to say: ''Let them go to 
serve [hire themselves out], earn some money themselves, and 
then learn." But my mother found a way even so, for she had 
her own money from the sale of geese, hens and ducks, and she 
sometimes took a little from the drawer [in the shop]. She put 
money aside separately for linen, for my sisters' hats, for clothes, 
for paying the seamstress who made the dresses, and for instruc- 
tion. My oldest sister was taught how to sew, and mother had 
to pay 25 roubles a trimester for her instruction, and as there were 
four such trimesters she had to pay a whole hundred roubles. 
This she had to save in different ways calculating how to adjust 
the accounts. But she always succeeded somehow.' 

We were always dressed cleanly and neatly, and everybody 

envied us. It was the habit of my parents to dress us twice a 

year, on Christmas and on Easter. We then had everything 

new from head to foot — on Christmas, boots, overcoats, caps 

and suits; on Easter, hats, shoes and summer-suits. It was always 

so as long as I was at home, and about this my parents did not 

quarrel. When we were dressed like this and went to church 

with our parents people stopped and looked at us, saying: "Where 

does their father get money for all this?"* We entered the church 

' We saw in Volumes I and II that the woman has more in view the needs 
of the individual members of the family while the man cares more for the 
material existence of the group as a whole. As long as the basis of this exis- 
tence is the farm, exclusive interest in the maintenance and increase of the 
familial fortune is perfectly justifiable and efficient, for thereby the children 
have their future assured. But in the present case the old Wiszniewski keeps 
the old attitude when it is completely misadapted to the actual conditions. 
There is no familial property which could assure the future of the children, and 
in his small trade he can never hope to put aside enough to endow them. The 
only way to assure their existence is to give them a sufficient instruction and 
push them into a middle-class career. He does this, indeed, but unwillingly 
and incompletely, as will appear. 

'The peasant secures recognition mainly through immobile property; 
when this is impossible, as in the present case, the attitude attaches itself to 
secondary kinds of ownership, such as dress. 



98 THE POLISH PEASANT 

through the sacristy, for the priest also had respect for my parents. 
My brother Stanislaw already assisted at the mass. I helped 
him sometimes, although I did not yet know the ministrantura 
very well. So I did it only when other boys did not come. My 
brother assisted as the "oldest" [the boy who poured the wine into 
the priest's chalice was called the "oldest"], and people wondered 
at such a small boy assisting and doing it so nicely. Only on 
Sundays the other boys assisted, while on working-days my 
brother assisted alone. The priest paid him 6 grosz [3 copecks]. 
When a service was performed for a [religious] fraternity, the 
priest gave him a zioty [15 copecks], and when the mass was 
bought by somebody this person had to give htm something also, 
and even if a strange priest said mass our priest had him give 
my brother a few grosz. So my brother Stanislaw collected much 
money. The boys fought among themselves, for everybody 
wanted to assist, but the priest did not like any one but my 
brother. My father often told him to put money aside, and he 
would become a priest. My brother thought seriously about it, 
I but it turned out otherwise. 

As I mentioned already, we went to church through the 
sacristy, but the priest did not allow everybody to do this. No 
one passed through the sacristy but the nobility of the neighboring 
manors, a few of the more prominent farmers, and my parents. 
My mother hj^d her own chair on which she fiat during the service. 
No other people were allowed to have chairs. On this account 
many were angry with the priest, but he did not care at all.* In 
short, my parents had respect and consideration from people, who 
considered them rich; and really, my parents did behave like 
well-to-do people. Twice a year they arranged parties, once at 
the end of the old year, and again at the beginning of April [after 
Easter]. But for me the one at the end of the old year was more 
agreeable. When the guests began to come in sleighs, each 
[harness] covered with bells, I drove a little way with each, and 
I used to pull a few hairs from the tail of every white horse to 
make snares for finches. There were always no less than twenty 
pairs of guests. Most of them were from Sompolno, a town 
situated seven wiorsta from Lubotyn. Then there were a few 
of the richer farmers, those who had borrowed money from my 

' Even the church helps to develop the consciousness of social hierarchy 
and the desire for recognition. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 99 

parents. There were six of them. Each one owed my parents 
200 roubles and paid interest at 8%. Each of these had a daughter 
or a son who considered it an honor to be in friendly relations 
with my sisters. Although my oldest sister was then only sixteen 
years old there were many who wanted to match her with their 
boys. Stanislaw and I were very well oflF, for we always robbed 
my sister of her various sweetmeats. If it had not been for 
mother father would have got his daughter married regardless 
of her youth, because these were rich boys. But my mother was 
positively opposed to it, and she had her way. The party began 
at eight o'clock in the evening. There were three musicians; 
one played a fiddle, another a bas&-violin, and the third a clarinet. 
It was, to be sure, a village band, but they knew how to play 
better pieces, for instance, a contredanse, a mazourka, a lancier 
and many pretty waltzes, polkas, obereks, etc. They were very 
highly appreciated in the country. My parents did not pay 
them anything, for they were pleased to play in our house, for 
such fine people, as they said. Thanks to it they had more success 
at weddings, for [people said]: "If they know how to play in the 
tavern-keeper's house, they will know how to play here." The 
beer and brandy did not cost my father much, for he had his own; 
the cakes were baked by my mother and sister with the help of 
the maid, the hens and ducks were also our own, and so such 
a party was rather cheap for my parents. Every one of the guests 
gave a party like ours, and my parents went, on the average, 
somewhere every third Sunday. No wedding, no baptism festival 
dispensed with my parents. In a word, they were universally 
respected.* 

' The position of Wladek's parents was such that falling below the level 
of the intermediary class and rising to the middle class were equally possible 
for the children. The sphere of their relations was not a coherent social 
group like the peasant community, the bourgeoisie of a town, the nobility of 
a province, but a loose-acquaintance circle, meeting only at entertainments. 
Such a circle gives no determined social frame to the individual's life; on the 
general background of more or less primary social tendencies it can merely 
develop showing^fiF attitudes and desire for socially-shared pleasures, no 
idea of serious social responsibilities. Thus Wtadek's social instincts developed 
into definite tendencies under the influence of three different forms of social 
organization — a small family (marriage-group) of a rather despotic patri- 
archal type, a hierarchy of small groups and individuals in the manor village, 
a loose acquaintance-group meeting only at social entertainments. 



« ♦ - 



loo THE POLISH PEASANT 

I may add a little about solemn days, such as Christmas, 
Easter, mother's and father's name-days. First I will write 
about the Easter holidays. Any one who entered my parents' 
room on Good Saturday, about three o'clock in the afternoon, 
saw a table covered with a beautiful cloth, and on it the Htn^one 
[food to be consecrated]; placeksj bdbas^ mazureks [different kinds 
of cakes], veal, ham, sausage, eggs, cheese, butter, horse-radish, 
vinegar, pepper and salt. In the middle of the table was a swine's 
head adorned with frosting, and holding in its mouth a painted 
egg. Nearby stood another small table, and on it our small 
babas. On one side of the room stood some chairs, and on them 
the hvi^one of poorer people, who brought it to our hpuse to be 
consecrated. The priest did not go from home to home, for he was 
very old and this tired him; he ordered them to bring their hvi^one 
to us, so that he could consecrate it all at once. Usually at about 
five in the afternoon the priest drove up in a buckboard and 
father went to meet him and bring him in. When he came in 
every one of us children greeted him by kissing his hand; he 
talked a little with everybody and wished us a merry ^'Alleluiah." 
After ,the consecration, our parents treated him to wie and he 
left. The strange women took their htn^one, thanked our 
parents and went away. Mother then locked the door. On 
Easter morning father awakened everybody for the ''Resurrec- 
tion," except sister Florcia [who had to do the housework]. The 
"Resurrection" was usually at six in the morning. When we 
got back from church breakfast was ready and we all sat down, 
young and old, at a prettily decorated table. Everybody was 
nicely and cleanly dressed. After breakfast my father opened 
the room where the hvi^one was and we were allowed to enjoy 
our small babas. Meanwhile father cut a piece of every part of 
the hoi^one for each of us and we began to eat it. But first 
father divided the egg with all of us. He did it with great solem- 
nity, and we received it still more solemnly. I have never seen 
the holidays celebrated with greater solemnity than in my parents' 
home. We were forbidden to go an3rwhere the first day [of the 
Easter holidays] except to church, and father received nobody 
on this day. Only on the second day [called dyngus day] we were 
allowed to go visiting, and many people came to our house to 
throw water on my sisters, but young people never dared to do 
this to my mother. A few older men such as the teacher, the 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT loi 

organist, the blacksmith, the carpenter, the farm-manager, also 
came in the morning to throw water and to drink a little. When 
they got somewhat merry they put fresh water into the bottles 
which each carried in his pocket and went further, from us to 
the teacher, to the organist, and so on, to everybody in turn, 
until they got well drunk. When they had enough, they went 
home. My mother disliked it greatly, because they poured so 
much water around the room that she had to put it in order again. 
After vespers young people, a few boys and girls, came to see us 
and amused themselves until late in the night, for the next day 
was also a holiday. It was customary to celebrate three holi- 
days. 

• But Christmas had more importance for us, because every 
child was presented with a gift, measured according to our parents' 
love. Our parents did not love us all equally and so the gifts were 
not equal. I and sister Marya always received the worst, though 
I don't know even now how I merited this. As to my sister, our 
parents said that she was very disobedient and bad-mouthed 
[impudent]. But as far as I remember, I never made my parents 
angry [by impudence] and I even loved my mother a great deal. 
And so my "little star" was always the worst. I often wept 
because of this. The best "little star" was given to brother 
Stanislaw or to sister Florentyna. Although my brother was 
only two years older than I he always received a gift three times 
more valuable than mine. My opinion is that he was worse than 
I, but he always knew how to flatter our parents, and in this way 
he got their favor. Whenever he incited me to some mischief 
or some trick and our parents asked who did it, he always put 
the blame on me and he was believed, while our parents never 
believed me in spite of all my explanations and excuses. Because 
of this we called Stanislaw "father's doll."* Often before Christ- 
mas Florcia and Stasio bought toys to hang on the Christmas- 
tree, for mother frequently said that they had good taste. The 

' Certainly exaggerated, but Stach must have had not only the "tocial 
instinct" which we find in Wladek but a tendency to regulated and ''nice" 
behavior which enabled him to profit more from given social conditions. The 
favoritism of the parents, acting upon Wladek's desire for response, provokes 
a strong degree of envy which occasionally becomes a tendency to climb and 
to equal Stas, as we shall see later. At present Wladek's attitude toward his 
family at a whole is a composite of grudge, some a£fection« and much vanity 
over its success. 



I02 THE POLISH PEASANT 

night before Christmas eve, mother, Florcia and Stasio did not 
sleep at all, btit decorated the tree. They did not show it to us 
until Christmas eve, after the supper. In my parents' home the 
supper began always with the first star in the sky. We then sat 
down at the table, everybody had his own plate [apparently all the 
children usually ate from one large plate], and there were always 
eleven courses. There should always be some hay under the table 
[usually under the tablecloth], a rather big heap, so that every cow 
could have a little of it. When we were seated at the table father 
and mother divided the wafer, and after that everybody in turn 
wished our parents [a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year] as 
well as he could. Next father said a prayer before the meal, and 
we all repeated it after him. Mother waited on the table, for the 
maid had to sit at the table with us, and she was not allowed to 
rise to do anything during the supper. She always had a small 
plate under the table and she stole a little of every dish for the 
dog, but secretly lest father should see her, for he would have been 
angry. After supper we gave this food to the dog, and the boy 
who was to marry my sister was supposed to come from the direc- 
tion in which the dog ran after he had eaten it. Father forbade 
our doing it, but we always succeeded in spite of him. The 
greatest joy for us was to watch the candles burning on the tree 
during supper. Moreover we were curious to find out what every- 
body was going to receive from our parents. After supper, which 
father also finished with a prayer, he ordered Stanislaw to bring 
the packages from under the tree. On every package was written 
who was to receive it. These gifts were distributed by mother. 
When everybody had received his own and given thanks, father 
brought in a basket of apples and another of nuts and divided 
them according to our ages; the older ones got more, the younger 
ones less. When we had received everything, every one unfolded 
his package to see what he had received. Then we began to play 
with nuts, "pair and impair." Our parents played with us. I 
always won the most, for I knew how to cheat.* 

The name-days of our father and mother were no less solemn 
for us. For a month before every one of us had plenty of work. 
First he had to learn some verses by heart and then he had to get 

' Early manifestation of a trait which is later quite characteristic — get- 
ting small profits by tricks. (C/. p. io8 and note.) 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 103 

these vers^ written on a nicely painted piece of paper. Every 
one who knew how to write had to copy them himself, and the 
older ones wrote for those who could not write. When the day 
came every one, big and little, arose early and dressed himself 
nicely in his Sunday clothes. After the prayer we stood in file, 
the oldest first, the youngest last. Every one held in his hand 
his paper with the verses he was to say, nicely bound with ribbon, 
and everybody was in a more than solemn mood. And thus we 
stood behind the door. Each entered our parents' sleeping-room 
in turn, kissed their hands and began to say his verses. Father 
and mother intentionally slept longer on this day, so that we might 
find them still in bed. Even the youngest brother, who did not 
know how to pronounce and who could not learn, went with 
Florcia. She said the verses, and he repeated them after her, for 
he would not give in, but had to say his wishes like the older ones. 
Then father or mother, the one whose name-day it was, kissed 
every one of us on the brow, patted our heads, thanked us, and 
when they arose, gave us candies, nuts and various sweetmeats. 
There was no school on this day. In a word, we had a family- 
holiday, and so it was every year until we left home. 

Now I must write a little about my brothers and sisters and 
how much we loved one another. As I said above, I loved Stach 
best, but he loved me less than I loved him, of which fact I have 
had proofs. From my childhood I have loved my whole family 
strongly and I was nicknamed [illegible word]. As to my parents, 
I loved my mother more, for she was more indulgent and for- 
bearing. The older brothers and sisters did not care much for 
me at that time, so I shall write nothing about them now; I can 
write about them later. In general I did not notice much love 
between the older children at that time. Every one of them tried 
to be superior to the others. I did not like it, and therefore, I 
was not much liked by them. Although I very seldom played 
any tricks, I was always considered guilty and I cried much 
because of this. My mother and father almost never gave me 
such caresses as they gave my brothers and sisters. So I often 
fled to solitude. I liked to dig a hole in the rye somewhere, hide 
myself in it and dream alone. It often happened that when my 
turn came to pasture the geese in the afternoon I remained long 
after everybody had driven everything from the field, having 
intentionally driven my geese into some hiding-place in order 



I04 THE POLISH PEASANT 

that they might not find me.' Sometimes one of the older children 
or mother came to look for me. If it was mother I showed myself 
soon for, as I said, I loved my mother more than my life. Some- 
times, when mother brought afternoon lunch to me in the field 
she told me to put my head upon her knees, and then, O my God ! 
it was one of the happiest days of my life. Then her fingers went 
through my hair as if they sought something, but as there was 
nothing to seek, for my head was always clean, it was from love 
only. Then I thought that my mother loved me at least a little. 
This afiFected me strongly and I was ready to kill myself for a 
single warmer embrace from my mother. But my brothers and 
sisters, who did not care much for it, received more and I was 
very jealous. I always brought my mother a nosegay of field- 
flowers, or a few water-lilies, which grew in some of the ponds, 
or peas in pods, or a pear; if I ever received two, the better one 
was surely destined for my mother.' But all this did not help; 
I was always good for nothing, there was always some reason 
for rebuking me and pushing me away from her. In spite of this 
I always loved my mother, and the bigger I grew the more I loved 
her. I did not love my father even half as much as her; in every 
situation mother was the better. When I drove the geese into 
the field she always gave me something [to eat]. 



In such an environment I spent almost eight years. In the 
eighth year of my life there came a change. A new teacher came 
with his family, a Mr. D. He had three sons and three daughters. 
The oldest [daughter] was called Pelagia, the second Kazimiera, 
the youngest Helena. The oldest boy was Jozef, the second 
Bronislaw, the youngest Jan. Immediately afterwards a new 
organist came, a young boy who was to become my brother-in-law 
in the future. I did hot like him, for he was very brutal. He 
spent much time at our house and flirted with Florcia, although 

' When the tocial tendency is met by a lack of respome it leads to a desire 
for solitude, which gives the opportunity of substituting dreams for reality 
and supplying in imagination the desired reactions. This love of solitude is 
an attitude which may easily become one of the factors of vagabondage. 

v^ * There may have been in his relation to his mother and father something 
of the unconscious Freudian "Oedipus complex." 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 105 

she was a year older than he. Mr. C. liked liquor very much, 
and it was rare that he was not drunk. Therefore my mother 
disliked him strongly, and said that pears would grow upon a 
willow before he would get my sister. But it happened otherwise. 
He never went to Mr. D. [the teacher] although the oldest girl 
there was also marriageable. But I became a great friend of the 
teacher's children. Bronislaw was of my age and Kazimiera was 
a year younger, so we played with one another a great deal. And 
they liked me very much; they said I was merry. Our parents 
and older sisters were also great friends. They [Mr. and Mrs. D.] 
sat in our house more than in their own. Mrs. D. was very hos- 
pitable and open-hearted and they took turns with us in giving 
parties; one Sunday there was a party in their house, and the 
next Sunday one in ours. In this way they spent everything and 
finally suffered misery.* They wanted to buy from us on credit. 
In the beginning our parents gave them some credit but later 
they refused to give any more, because the D.'s had no money 
to pay them. And then they did not have much to eat. But 
they were very conceited, particularly the teacher himself. It 
was difficult to get a pleasant look from him, for he always glared 
like a bandit. The school-children were, therefore, very much 
afraid of him.' The priest did not like the D. children, because 
they stole fruit from the garden; they threw stones into beautiful 
trees and damaged them a great deal, and the priest caught them 
doing this more than once. Besides, they sometimes caught 
the priest's pigeons with snares. But I was greatly favored by 
the priest. When the fruit was ripe the priest took me by the 
hand and led me to the garden. He asked me how many pockets 
I had. I counted and told him and he filled all my pockets and 
my hat and even my handkerchief with fruit. And when I 
brought him papers or bread he gave me as much fruit as I could 
carry. He always gave me 10 grosz and told me to study hard 

'Just before the fall of Poland the aristocracy amused itself as never 
before or after, and the tradition of entertainment influenced the lower classes. 
But this attitude never influenced Wladek. He seldom treats, even in later 
life. During his apprenticeship and wandering he associated mainly with 
people who could more easily treat him, and their action found a favorable 
ground in his essential egotism. 

* We find elsewhere (Gauta Swi^tectna) in a letter from a peasant corro- 
boration of this opinion of the teacher. 



io6 THE POLISH PEASANT 

and he would help me to become a druggist. And when I began 
to serve at mass — it was in summer when there was no school — 
I sometimes spent the whole day in his house. At harvest-time 
he told me to come to him after mass whenever I was free from 
pasturing geese, of course with my parents' permission. When 
I came, he gave me a whip and ordered me to drive the horses, 
while he held the reins. He also took me to dinner at his house. 
In the evening he gave me 2 zloty and said: ''Here are your 
wages." And so it was every day. When everything had been 
brought in from the field, he told me to pick apples and pears, 
and later, nuts, and I always received 2 zloty, even if I was with 
him only one hour. Once he took me to the barn, gave me a 
flail, took another himself, and we began to thresh. After a few 
strokes the priest ordered me to whistle. I was unable to do it, 
for I was very tired, and this made him laugh.' 

The teacher's sons envied me greatly these favors from the 
priest, and they played every possible trick on him. They were 
never nicely dressed, their clothes were always torn, their shirts 
could be seen from behind [through their breeches] and sometimes 
even the naked flesh showed through. They were not at all like 
the sons of a teacher, but rather like goose-boys, and everybody 
laughed at them. The girls were always dressed better and 
cleaner. Here I must mention that the blacksmith also had 
three boys. We were very good friends with the oldest. We 
three, I, the teacher's son and the blacksmith's son, were always 
together. . . • My brother Stanislaw did not keep company 
with us much; he was more occupied with his studies. 

In such an environment and with such friendships I spent my 
life until I was twelve years old. Durmg the last two years 
there were many changes in the home of my parents. First, 
my oldest brother, Aleksy, got the position of commune-secretary 
of Wysokie, nine wiorsta from Lubotyfi. As he was still a bachelor 
he consulted our parents and they decided that Stanislaw should 
be educated to be a teacher. He agreed to it and went away with 
Aleksy. Brother Aleksy sent him to a private teacher in Kramsk, 

* The habit of expecting more from the favor of others than from his own 
work, which we shall notice later in Wladek, was certainly developed under the 
influence of such relations as this one, just as servility develops at an early 
•age in the children of manor-servants favored by the family of the manor- 
owner. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 107 

who was to prepare him for the teachers' seminary. I was the 
oldest [son] at home after he left. I now served at mass alone 
and I was very proud of this. My relations with the priest became 
still more friendly and I did not pasture geese any more, for my 
parents did not keep many of them. They no longer kept a 
tavern because a [governmental] liquor-monopoly was established 
and there was no liquor-shop in Lubotyfi. The trade [in the 
store] was no longer as good as before, and our conditions became 
greatly changed. My parents were therefore glad to get rid of 
us; they were also glad that I already earned enough for my 
clothes. They no longer kept a maid, in order to reduce expenses. 
I was already in the third division, and my brother Pawel was 
admitted to the second division, and he also learned well. In 
the summer we usually loafed around together, for th& black- 
smith's son was already working in the forge, and Jozef, the 
teacher's son, had gone to Turek as a baker's apprentice. I alone 
was still free to dispose of my time as I wished. I began to keep 
more company with the farmers' [peasants'] boys, and I was 
seldom at home, for I always went with them to pick berries in 
the summer and mushrooms and nuts in the autumn. But these 
companions of mine always elected me their elder, and when we 
went nut-gathering I had to stand guard while they gathered the 
nuts, for the forest-keeper did not allow it. They had to give 
me half of what they gathered, and as I was not lazy I gathered 
as many as I could myself. Once about ten of us went for nuts 
as usual, and I acted as their chief for half the nuts they should 
gather. . . . When every one had a lot of nuts in his shirt (I had 
the most because I went farther into the thicket) I saw the forest- 
keeper. He had his back turned toward me and his gun on his 
shoulder. I tiimed and whistled loudly. It was the signal for 
flight. But he heard my whistle also, left the gun in the thicket 
and began to chase us. The boys, seeing the terror behind them, 
threw all their nuts away. I also ran a few steps, and then I hid 
myself in a hole. He ran past without noticing me, for he was 
very angry. He did not pursue my companions very long and 
came back without having caught anybody. When he returned 
to the forest I left my hiding place and went slowly along the 
tracks of my companions, gathering the nuts on the way, and 
there were so many of them that I did not have room enough, 
but I tied my trousers around my ankles with a string and slipped 



io8 THE POLISH PEASANT 

them in under my belt. When I got home I put them into a hole 
in the ground where I already had some two gallons. I kept 
them in the earth in order to make them a nice yellow and to 
keep them safe, and nobody knew about them except myself and 
Pawel.' 

The summer days passed rapidly with such distractions. As 
I wrote above, the teacher's daughter [Kazimiera] and I loved 
each other much and I spent whole evenings with their family 
when the teacher was at our house playing sixty-six with my 
father. They were both passionately fond of this game, and 
when one or the other wanted to win back what he had lost they 
sometimes played until morning. They played for counters, 
never for money, but nevertheless they quarreled a great deal 
during the game, for my father was very quarrelsome at cards, 
no matter whom he played with or what for. I could be free 
in his [the teacher's] house when he was not at home, but when 
he was there we had to sit quiet, or else he would swear vehemently. 
I did not like him at all; not only I, but his own family, his wife 
and children, almost hated him. When he was in the room we 
went to the kitchen and there we played or told stories. I could 
tell more stories, for I read many books, and often the whole 
family, except the teacher himself, sat around me while I talked. 
But I liked to be begged and when I was in the middle of some 



' A new example of the cunning which Wladek shows in many acts of 
his life. It is an interesting point that this cunning is shown only incidentally 
and does not develop into an intelligent pursuit of a career. This fact may 
perhaps be accounted for by the peasant' traditions upon which Wladek'a 
parents and himself are still greatly dependent. The career of the peasant is 
ready for him; cunning, intellectual development, spirit of enterprise, tech- 
nical preparation, etc., are merely additional factors of success, but not con- 
ditions of existence. An incidental display of cunning is therefore the usual 
V'*^ form in which the peasant's practical intelligence shows itself, but the strong 

y and thorough organization of peasant life keeps this display"within the limits 

of a certain honesty, while the security of existence of every individual hinders 
it from developing into a consistent life-policy. When the steady social and 
economic organization is taken away we should expect this cunning either to 
degenerate into a tendency to live by one's wits or to become sublimated into 
a ulent for business enterprise. But Wladek's social conformism, without 
preventing him from occasional crookedness, prevents his making of this a 
means of living, while his lack of economic ideals does not permit him to reach 
the level of a business man. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 109 

stoiy I rose and pretended to be going away. They would not 
let me go, and I was then perfectly satisfied.' 

Once — it was during the carnival — Mr. and Mrs. D. went 
to a party at a farmer's house. They took Helcia and Janek 
with them. Pelcia, Kazia and Bronek were left at home and 
they came to my parents' house and stayed until ten. Then 
they asked my parents to allow me to go and stay overnight with 
them at their house. When we got there Pelcia made tea and 
we then went to sleep. I and both sisters slept in the bedroom, 
and Bionis in the kitchen. They were not ashamed of me nor 
I of them, for they did not even put out the lamp when undressing. 
I could not sleep for a long time, I don't know why. When I 
had lain for about two hours, suddenly Miss Pelagia arose from 
her bed and called a few times in a low voice, ^' Kazia." But 
the other was evidently fast asleep. Miss Pelagia then came to 
my bed, touched me and asked whether I was asleep. Of course 
I was not asleep, but I pretended to be and, as if awakened, I 
asked her, "What do you want?" Then she told me to move 
nearer the wall. When I did so and made room for her she lay 
down at my side and began foolishing with me. In the beginning 
I was very much ashamed, but slowly I grew bolder and played 
with her as if she were my equal. And so we foolished nearly 
the whole night. Only toward morning she left my bed and lay 
down near her sister. We remained so for an hour perhaps, and 
then we began to get up. I shall probably never forget that 
night in the course of which I enjoyed so much love, for if she 
had not taught me about it, I should have had no idea at all at 
such a tender age. But this learning had bad consequences for 
me, because I always wanted to play in the same manner. And 
once I got a good beating from my sister Marya when I arose in 
the night, crept into her bed and tried to play. She awoke, 
saw what was going on, gave me some strong boxes on the ear 
and drove me out of her bed. It is well that the matter ended 
thus and that she did not say anything to our parents, for I should 
certainly have got a beating that I should have remembered for 
my whole life. Evidently she was ashamed herself, for she never 
reproached me on account of it. Seeing that I should not get 
any benefit from my sisters, I went to Miss Pelagia again. When- 
ever there was any chance we started to play at once. It hap* 

' Early development of technique for securing response. 



no THE POLISH PEASANT 

pened once that we did not play for about a month and I longed 
very much. So I wrote Miss Pelagia a letter, which I gave her 
myself, asking her to come to the cemetery in the evening, and 
saying that if she did not come I would tell everybody. I wrote 
in this way so as to frighten her, and it was profitable, for she 
came everywhere when I asked her, although she was eighteen 
and I only twelve.' But as she kissed me many times and begged 
me [not to tell] I did not let it be noticed either in their home or 
in ours. 

This lasted for more than two years, until I went to appren- 
ticeship, but toward the end of this time I grew tired of that older 
sister ahd desired Kazia.' But I could in ho way seduce the 
latter. Once I urged her to go rowing on the lake with me, and 
to this she willingly agreed. I stole a package of good tobacco 
from my father and gave it to the fisherman for letting me take 
his boat. He willingly granted my request, knowing that I could 
row pretty well. We agreed that she would go beyond the priest's 
garden and wait for me there and she did so. When we had 
rowed out to the middle of the lake I started to do it with her, but 
she sto6d up and said: ^^So you brought me out only to seduce 
me! If you touch me again I will jump into the lake." I thought 
she would do it, so I did hot dare to urge her any further, but I 
said to myself that I would hot forgive her this [would carry out 
my plan], only a little later. With this idea I brought her ashore 
and then to their house. When I met Miss Pelagia in the ceme- 
tery the next evening she asked me at once why I had taken 
Kazia from home. "You certainly wanted to foolish with her," 

'The blackmailing attitude developed in a child. Given the boy's 
•ezual desire, and the social situation — the girl's initial action, the norms of 
social opinion, the girl's dependence on social opinion — and Wladek's be- 
havior follows quite naturally. This type of attitude plays a much greater 
role in social life than is usually assumed, and deserves study, in the sublimated 
forms of ''pressure" and "influence." 

' This and the episode with his sister show how spontaneous is the desire 
for new experience in the sexual line. The limitation of sexual intercourse 
to one person demands a social organization of the whole relation, either in 
the form of a socially sanctioned bond (marriage), or in the form of a system 
of common habits gradually formed (cohabitation) or in the form of a con- 
centration of ideas and emotions not exclusively sexual around the other 
personality (romantic love). That is to say, monogamous regulation of the 
•exual impube must come from other sources than the sexual impulse itself. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT in 

she eaid. "Well, did you succeed?" Pushed to the wall, I con- 
fessed everjrthing to her from beginning to end, for I was afraid 
to estrange her also. 

Perhaps the reader will wonder how my father allowed me 
to go on such expeditions. To tell the truth, he undoubtedly 
would have given me a good beating and forbidden it had he 
known, but happily for me he did not even guess, for his character 
at this time had become greatly changed. He was more occupied 
with himself, and he i^s seldom at home. He was trying to get 
a license from the government for a beer-shop which he wanted 
to open in Sompolno. And he got the license, but not until two 
years after the closing of the tavern; during this time he Kept a 
grocery store. Nothing important happened in my parents' 
home in these two years. Stach, who took an examination for 
the teachers' seminary, did not pass and had to go to be examined 
again the following year. During this time he was cook and 
servant for Aleksy. Next year, Aleksy took him to Leczyca 
where he stayed four months with an instructor at the seminary, 
who boarded the students. Any student who boarded with him 
was sure to pass the examination, but he had to pay lOO roubles 
in advance. When our father paid this money Stach passed his 
examination very well. He was to stay in this seminary for three 
years and then get a license as governmental teacher, which he 
later did. During the time Stanislaw prepared for the seminary 
in Leczyca I was cook for Aleksy. Soon after Stach passed his 
examination Aleksy married a Miss J. from Kleczewo — he being 
then twenty-six years old — and I came back to Lubotyfi. 



While all this was happening to my friends and my family 
I finished my fourteenth year. My parents had told me sometime 
before to choose an apprenticeship that I liked.' But I could 
not find one. Meanwhile my father got the license to keep a 
beer-shop in Sompolno, and in my fourteenth year my parents 
moved there. I left all my acquaintances and friends in Lubotyfi, 

' This freedom of choice it simply a sign that his parents were not much 
interested in his future and did not count upon him as a support of the family, 
as they did in the case of Stach, whose career is carefully planned. 



112 THE POLISH PEASANT 

even my *' betrothed/' for so Kazia was [jestingly] called. I had 
not been in Sompolno very long, scarcely seven months, when 
Aleksy came to our house one day and said he had an apprentice- 
ship for me in a barber-shop in Konin. I was to go with him at 
once to his house and from there to Konin. So, taking only a 
few things with me, I left rather late in the evening with Aleksy, 
after a tender enough farewell and a sermonizing from my parents. 
Three days later I was in Konin, in the shop of Mr. Remisz, for 
that was the barber's name. He asked me at once, in the presence 
of Aleksy, whether I wanted to learn, and when I said yes [it was 
settled that] I should remain with him for four weeks on trial, 
and that a contract should then be concluded. In the beginning 
I did not like it at all, for we went to sleep at midnight and at six 
o'clock in the morning I had to be upon my feet. I was not the 
only apprentice; there were three other boys, but older than I. 
They already knew how to shave, while I had to stand at the 
door, let the customers in and out, and sometimes brush the clothes 
of a more important one. Every morning I had to go to the 
bakery and purchase one zioty's worth of rolls. Each of us had 
one roll and a bit of bread besides. Once I went to fetch the rolls, 
and when I counted them I found one too many and ate it. But 
when the landlady arose and began to count she called me from 
the shop and said she was one roll short, and she asked me if I 
had not eaten it. Of course I did not confess, but I went to the 
bakery and told them they had given me one roll too few. They 
said nothing and gave me another roll. And so I was not found 
out, but I had a warning to count better in the future. Every- 
thing would have been well enough if they had given us more to 
eat, but when they called us to dinner there was as little served 
as if we had been small children, and when I arose after dinner 
I was hungrier than when I sat down. After these dinners I was 
ready to eat a pound of sausage. Once I said so aloud [before 
other boys] and it led to my making a wager with one of the boys. 
I said I would eat a whole pound of sausage and 6 grosz worth of 
rolls, and the wager was that if I did it, he was to pay for them, 
and if I did not I had to pay. We bought all this, but alas! I 
was oblighed to leave perhaps one-eighth of the sausage and half 
a roll, and I lost the wager, i. ^., I had to pay for what I ate. I 
had some money, for every day I earned a little when I brushed 
a customer. In such conditions I spent four weeks, after which 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 113 

my brother and father came to settle the contract, but they could 
come to no agreement. The boss wanted a contract with the 
following conditions: I was to stay and learn four years; he was 
to be allowed to give me corporal punishment if I merited it, and 
in the event of my flight father was to pay him for every day I 
had spent with him. Aleksy and my father were displeased with 
this, and so the agreement was not concluded. They gave him 
one week for reflection. After a week I got a letter ordering me 
to ask the boss whether he would not yield. It was written in the 
following way: ''Tell him that if he agrees not to inflict corporal 
punishment on you, your father will come and sign the contract." 
He was present when I read the letter, and I had hardly finished 
when he reached out his hand and asked me to show him what 
my parents had written. When he read the letter he became 
terribly angry, because it was written, "Tell him,'* instead of 
"tell your Mr. Superior'* [or "tell Mr. Remisz"]. So he gave 
the letter back to me and ordered me to be gone. I went to search 
for a coach, but I could not find one until the next day. Some 
drivers came to the governmental store for spirits and I went 
back with one of them. But when I got home — O my God! 
My father almost wanted to kill me for having run away, and 
he would never believe that he himself was the cause of my being 
driven away. In later days he always reproached me with having 
run away, and for this I almost hated him. He would not be 
persuaded; he knew that it was true, but he would not humiliate 
himself [by acknowledging that he was wrong]. 

I did not remain long at home, for soon a surgeon's assistant, 
Mr. Poradzinski from Izbica, came to take me and I went with 
him. I was dissatisfied from the first moment there. He was 
a good man, but she! Well, I have never in my life seen another 
such. And what made me most angry was that when I drank 
water she washed the glass with soap for an hour afterward, and 
when she intended to go to church on Sunday she ordered me 
to shine her shoes on the Monday before and on every day during 
the whole week, although the shoes remained quietly upon a 
foot-stool in the room. And then I had to sleep on a sofa so 
narrow that every night I fell off more than once. Therefore 
I did not stay more than two weeks. When she ordered me again 
to repeat the same story with her shoes, I refused, took my clothes 



114 THE POLISH PEASANT 

and went home.' My father did not vociferate as much [this 
time] because he knew what a shrew this Mrs. P. was. 

Then I spent almost a whole winter at home, for again the 
condition of my parents changed. After we had lived a year in 
SompolnOy the beer business being poor, father took the store in 
Lubotyfi again, without giving up the beer-shop. So we had 
two businesses, in Lubotyfi and in Sompolno. Mother went to 
Lubot3r£ and took all the children, except sister Marya, who 
stayed with father in the beer-shop. I went with mother. Before 
leaving Sompolno I had got acquainted with a boy who had been 
for two years a baker's apprentice in Sompolno. He urged me 
to learn to be a baker, and I decided I would, but the baker, Mr. 
Degurski, would not take me until spring. We left Sompolno on 
New Year, so I had still three months free. I made the trip to 
Lubotyfi joyfully, for many pleasures awaited me there and my 
friends rejoiced no less than I. My parents and Mr. D. soon got 
angry with each other, but not for long. The cause of the anger 
was my parents* refusal to give them any more credit; they owed 
us more than 40 roubles and they wanted to buy still more, whil^ 
my parents could not sell any more. But soon they came to an 
understanding. They gave us a sewing-machine for 25 roubles, 
my father took a pig for 15 roubles and the anger then subsided. 
It made no di£Ference to us children if our parents quarreled; 
we lived in perfect harmony and I now tried to renew my love- 
relation with Miss Pelagia, but I enjoyed this much desired love 
only once and then in a very difficult way. As soon as I was settled 
in Lubotyfi, I wrote Miss P. the following letter: "Dear Miss 
Pelagia: I must confess that I have longed for you very much 
during the whole year, and I have thought only of you. I hope 
that you have longed for me too, for you certainly had nobody 
to play with. So I beg you very much to write me where we can 
meet. I shall await your answer with longing. Please hand 
me your answer in the same way as before, and I believe that you 
won't refuse me for the sake of our common enjoyment. I remain 
yours, W. W." 

But alas! I waited in vain a whole week and got no news at all. 
We usually passed all our letters to each other from hand to 

' The attitude of self-esteem implies a certain expectation of social recog- 
nition, and this evidently pre-existed in the boy and changed to offended 
dignity on meeting so radical and unmerited a rebuke. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 115 

hand. I was tired of waiting and I wrote her another letter and 
said that if she did not answer I would betray her. I must have 
frightened her seriously for I did not need to wait long for an 
answer, only not by letter, but by words. On the third day we 
had an opportunity to speak. She began to abuse me a great deal 
and she said, almost with tears, that if she had known I would 
be so importunate she would have preferred not to begin at all. 
Moreover that I always frightened her by threatening to tell 
everybody. "You are unbearable, my Wladek," — for she called 
me by name [as a much younger boy]. "Stop boring me with 
your love, my dear. I have a betrothed. I shall soon marry 
perhaps, so cease to bore me with your letters once for all; even 
now, I don't read them but throw them into the fire." I felt 
cold and hot during this speech. I did not know how to answer, 
so I got up and walked away in order to reflect what to do further. 
Although I strained my stupid mind I could form no plan and 
I reached home without a single idea and in a very bad humor. 
My mother noticed it and asked what was the matter with me 
and whether I was not sick. I answered that it was nothing and 
so the matter ended. But fortune managed to do what I could not. 
On the third Sunday after our conversation several boys and girls 
came to Mr. D.'s house. Of course I was there. I went there 
as often as if nothing had happened, and occupied myself with 
Kazia, although my mind was turned toward Miss P. When 
many young people had gathered — besides us children, there 
were some guests more than twenty years old, among them Mr. 
Franciszek N., whom Miss P. had called her betrothed — we 
resolved to play forfeits. We played different ways, and when 
there were enough forfeits we elected judges to inflict punishment 
upon all who had incurred forfeits. When my turn came I was 
condenmed "to carry sweet cherries about,*' that is, to kiss every- 
body. When the girls heard the judgment they began to fly and 
to hide about the entire house. I paid the greatest attention 
to where Miss P. went to hide. She was among those who went 
upstairs to the garret. I followed her and saw where she hid; 
two other girls besides her went upstairs/ Ii^ the garret was some 
hay for the cow that Mr. D. kept. When I went upstairs I first 
found Miss Antonina W., the daughter of a miller. I shall tell 
more about her later. Then I found Kazia. When I had kissed 
them both — they did not defend themselves much — they went 



ii6 THE POLISH PEASANT 

downstairs and I pretended to search for Miss P. I knew very 
well where she was hidden and when I found her I began to kiss 
her with greater boldness because I had kissed her more than 
once before. But I was not satisfied with kissing only; I de- 
manded more. In the beginning she refused even to listen; she 
said she would call and everybody would come. I said let her 
call; / would not be ashamed. When I continued to kiss and 
implore her she saw there was no escape from me, and fearing 
this search might seem too long, she finally yielded. But first 
she made me promise that it would not happen again, and that 
I would cease to importune her. I was obliged to swear to it, 
and she urged me to hasten because she was very much afraid 
that somebody might come upstairs. When we had foolished 
enough I went down first and entered the room, saying that I 
could not find Miss P. Other girls and that betrothed of hers 
went to search for her. They soon found her and brought her 
down, quite covered with hay. 

Such was my last enjoyment with Miss P., for I had sworn 
to leave her alone, and I kept my oath, turning my love toward 
Kazia. But I had no love-relations at all with her, although we 
were already called a pair of betrothed. And so the rest of those 
three months passed without any important incident. It was 
time to go to my apprenticeship and I began to prepare myself 
for it. First I had to go to confession. I made my first confession 
when eleven years old. Mr. C. [the organist] prepared me, but 
he did not have to teach me the catechism at all, for I had learned 
it at school. Thus I was admitted to confession without any 
difficulty, which rejoiced the priest. He told me that I was 
already a man, since I had been to confession. All of the children 
who were at home had to go to confession four times a year. . . . 
My first confession was not celebrated very solemnly, so I won*t 
describe it. 

Up to the time I started preparing for this apprenticeship 
I had been to confession at least ten times. I must say that I 
did not like to go to our priest, for he never asked about any sins 
in particular and I had to do all the talking myself. When I 
finished my story he gave me absolution and the confession was 
over. But once, during a parish festival when I was confessing 
to another priest, he investigated thoroughly, he reminded me 
[about different sins], he abused me and was almost ready to beat 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 117 

me at the confessional chair. This I called a [real] confession 
and I approached it with great terror.' Before every confession 
my father gave me a whole heap of moral preaching until I was 
weary of listening. He talked this way not only to me but to 
every one of his children, even to Aleksy, although he was of age 
and married. From this anger often arose between my father 
and Aleksy. Once father was in his house and noticed that he 
ate his breakfast without having said the prayer. Father very 
unceremoniously reproached him, which made Aleksy very angry 
with father. He did not love father any more than the other 
children did, for father was ungenerous and brutal toward his 
children, even when they were grown up. 

Although I was still almost a child, I did not like this paternal 
moral preaching much either, but I listened because I had to. It 
was the same with this confession before the apprenticeship. Father 
ordered me to tell the priest everything, even things I did not 
consider sinful. But I told only things which I considered sinful 
myself. For example, when I stole anything from my parents 
I did not consider it a sin and did not tell it, although father had 
ordered me to tell and I had promised. Then I had one more sin 
upon my conscience — disobedience. I always considered dis- 
obedience a sin and I could not understand how it was possible 
not to listen to one's parents. I listened not only to them but 
also to my older brothers and sisters, and if they ordered me to 
do anything I did it, not only from fear but also from conviction 
that I was doing right. Neither my parents nor my older brothers 
and sisters ever complained of me in this respect.' 

When I had finished the confession and my clothes were ready 
and nothing remained but going to the apprenticeship, suddenly 
my mother changed her mind. She no longer wanted me to go 

'This appreciation of religous terror — the tragic "terror" of Aristotle 
— is typically peasant, though of course universal on a certain level of de- 
velopment. 

' The. obedience here is the result of the desire for response, but Wladek 
claims moral merit on this account, as he always does when his behavior 
happens to be in accord with the social norm, even when its source is quite 
other than the feeling of duty — a typical Philistine attitude. His claim is 
also a proof that in the process of dissolution of the old familial solidarity 
obedience is the most persistent of all the attitudes. The bond of affection 
which substitutes itself in other cases for the primitive solidarity is a socially 
new attitude, not belonging, like obedience, to the traditional complex. 



ii8 . THE POLISH PEASANT 

to learn to be a baker, but to remain at home for some time and 
learn the butcher's trade from my father. When I grew stronger 
I could go to town and learn how to make a greater variety of 
products, for my father only knew how to make sausages, pudding- 
sausages and podgardlanki^ though in ^nter we killed a hog 
almost every week. Mother really wanted me to take my father's 
place at home in the future. But I did not want even to listen 
to this and I continually asked for an apprenticeship.' 



At last, toward the end of March, the day came when I was 
to go to Sompolno. I was to go afoot, while my father was to 
bring me my box when they came to Sompolno to shop. It was 
Monday. I arose as early as possible. I went to the church, 
assisted at mass, and then went to the priest to bid him goodbye. 
The priest filled my pockets with nuts and gave me half a rouble 
for the journey, but he did not refer to the druggist again nor to 
his promise [to help me to become one]. He advised me to listen 
to my new father and to be always polite to him, for then I should 
become a respectable man. I thanked him for the good advice 
and left. On the way I called on the D.'s to bid them goodbye. 
There I got a really hearty farewell, for I had grown as accustomed 
to them as to my own parents, and they to me. We knew one 
another for so long a time, I went to school there for so many 
years that it is not strange we loved one another. Mrs. D. kissed 
me more warmly than her own son [he was also a baker's appren- 
tice] and said: ''Who will be a better baker and who will finish 
first, you or my Jozio?" I shook hands with Kazia and wanted 
to kiss her, but she refused. I kissed Helcia and Janek and merely 
bowed to Miss P. Bronislaw was not at home, for he had gone 
to the forest to get fire-wood. Mr. D. was at the school-house. 
Mrs. D. asked me to come to Lubot3rn often and visit her. ''For 
you are my son-in-law, Wladzio," she said. I kissed her Jband 
once more and, almost in tears, I left this hospitable house where 
I had enjoyed so much pleasure and entertainment.' Then I 

' Desire for new experience. 

'His relation with the D. family alwajrs remained more free, even if 
less dose, than that with his own. Indeed the attitudes of personal friend- 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 119 

went straight home. I did not go to the blacksmith's house for 
we had quarreled with his son about some pigeons. After break- 
fast I bade my parents goodbye. My father gave me his hand 
to kiss and said we should see each other in a few days. But 
when I went to kiss my mother's hand, instead of giving me the 
hand to kiss, she struck me in the face — for the first time in 
my life. Dear reader, you can imagine what an impression this 
must have made on me! If I had been struck by lightning it 
would certainly have been less astonishing than getting a box 
on the ear from my mother at such an important moment. And 
for what? I don't know myself why my mother acted so meanly. 
After this I did not try to kiss her hand again, but without bidding 
goodbye to my brothers and sisters, I left the house. When I 
reached the school-house the teacher was standing on the threshold, 
so I bade him goodbye also. He patted me on the head and 
advised me to be polite and obedient. I thanked him and went 
on. During the entire journey I cried without being able to stop 
because of the farewell my mother had given me. I tried to 
think how I could have deserved it. For a moment I hated the 
whole world and all the people in it. I who loved my mother 
so much and who would have been glad to be always with her, 
I thought badly even of her at that moment. I could not con- 
ceive that she did it without a reason, and at last I came to the 
conclusion that mother did it because I refused to learn to be a 
butcher, as she had planned. This could have been the only 
reason she gave me the ear-box.' But going along the road I 

ship and affection cannot express themselves with sufficient freedom in the 
family because the traditional norms of obedience and the feeling of respon- 
sibility give the whole relation a character of seriousness and constraint. 
This character is not felt so much in the primary peasant family, where the 
respective attitudes are habitual. In W!adek*8 case the familial connection 
is already felt as an unpleasant duty and may disappear if the contrary atti- 
tudes find favorable conditions of development. 

' The boy's refusal to stay at home is not a sufficient explanation of the 
anger, and we are unable to offer one. We have seen American mothers 
behave in a similar way, and we suspect the Freudian complex. {Cf. p. 104, 
note.) Cases of seemingly incomprehensible acts performed suddenly without 
any noticeable process of preparation and without an apparent reason are 
frequently met, especially in people with a relatively low degree of culture. 
The incomprehensible character of these acts for us is due in a large measure 
to the existence of attitudes which are not ours, but in a large measure also 
to a more general cause which we have mentioned in the introduction — the 



I20 THE POLISH PEASANT 

resolved that I would hold out in the apprenticeship however hard 
it might be and later establish a bakery, so that my parents could 
live with me in their old age, although I was then, in their eyes, 
the worst of all their children.* 

Animated ^th this hope, I hastened my steps in order to 
reach the end of my journey sooner, and at three o'clock I was 
already in Mr. Degurski's home, without having seen my sister 
Marya, who was then in the beer-shop with my brother Pawei. 
I resolved that I would go home as seldom as possible. So Marya 
and Pawel did not know that I was already in Sompolno, but I 
intended to go to see them the next day. When I entered the 
bakery, I was received with joy. Mrs. Deg. gave me a good and 
plentiful dinner, very different from the dinners we received in 
Konin. The boss was not at home at that moment. After the 
dinner, which I ate in the kitchen, I went to the bakery to see 
the other boy. His name was Janek. He too was glad I had 
come. Janek was seventeen, three years older than I, and he 
was to be emancipated [become a free journeyman] on August 
loth of the following year, and of this he was very proud and 
glad. He was the elder, and I was obliged to listen to him in 
everything relating to the work. When we had shaken hands 
he led me to an alcove where I undressed in order to help him 
carry in firewood for the oven. When we had brought wood 
enough Janek put it all into the oven and began to prepare the 
dough for bread and rolls. He prepared it and I looked on. 
When the boss came I greeted him, and he said: "Well, you are 
here, and already in the apron? I thought you did not want 
any baker's work." "Oh, yes, I do. I want to be a baker. 
And my mother made this apron." "All right, all right, if you 
are willing and obedient, you will become a man. And listen 
to Janek, for he is the elder." Then he told Janek to awaken him 
when it was time to put the rolls into the oven, and left. Janek 
said he was going to sleep when he had finished preparing the 
dough, and he told me to do the same. I lay down beside him 



vagueness with which situations are given to the uncultivated mind. The 
situation may remain vague for a long time until suddenly some new element 
added to it — sometimes a quite insignificant one — makes it clear for the 
subject, who then defines it as suddenly. 

' This is not affection or generosity but the wish to even up — the desire 
for response and recognition expressed in a day-dream. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 121 

on the bed which stood in the bakery. We were to sleep three 
hours while the dough was rising. Janek fell asleep at once, but 
I could not close my eyes, for I was thinking continually how I 
should become a journeyman, earn some money, then marry 
Kazia, and take my parents to my home in their old age.' Dream- 
ing so about my future, I remained awake the whole three hours. 
At eleven I roused Janek, who kneaded the dough. We slept for 
two hours more and then arose to work. Janek made the fire 
and ordered me to cover the planks with towels for the rolls. 
When there was a good fire we began to make the rolls; that is, 
Janek made them and I put them on the planks. There were 
not many on this day, only eight planks full. When he had made 
the rolls he told me to carry them outdoors and he began to make 
the bread. I weighed the dough and he made the loaves. When 
everything was ready Janek roused the boss, who did not put 
the rolls into the oven, but ordered Janek to clean the oven and 
to put them in himself. He said that in the future we two were 
to do the work and he told me to learn quickly. When we finished 
it was about eight in the morning. I went with the boss to the 
bakery shop. He counted the rolls, put them into a basket and 
gave them to me to carry around the town to two restaurants and 
six stores. When I got back it was ten o'clock. Then I had to 
go to the draw-well six times for water, which I carried on a 
bearing-wood. The well was so deep that it was difficult to draw 
the water, the buckets were large and it was a long way to carry 
them. Next I had to sweep the bakery and fetch firewood, and 
only then I was free. I had to carry in about a sixteenth of a 
cubic sqie^ [a cubic s^zeii contains about 216 cubic feet] and this 
carrying was also hard. When I finished doing all this it was 
one o'clock. I ate dinner, dressed and went to call on sister 
Marya. I gave her father's messages, drank a glass of beer, and 
returned to the bakery. Janek was already at work. I spent 
about two weeks working in this way. Then my father came — 
he was there once before when he brought my box — and asked 
me how I liked it. I said it was not bad, but complained that 
the work was rather hard. Father did not stop to listen to my 
last words, and went upstairs to talk to the boss about the con- 
ditions of my apprenticeship. I was not called upstairs at all. 

* His day-dreams always remain what they are here — vanity-dreams» 
with a rather secondary and insignificant sexual element. 



122 THE POLISH PEASANT 

After about three hours my father and the boss came to the bakery 
and explained their conditions to me. I was to learn for three 
years by serving; that is, doing everything I was ordered. Mr. 
Degurski was to teach me the baker's work and after three years 
to emancipate me at his own cost. After they explained this to 
me they went away and I was left alone, for Janek was not there. 
Father's action displeased me, for he left me there under hard 
conditions though he still had plenty of money and could have 
made things easier for me. For example, he could have bought 
my clothes and then the boss would not have forced me to carry 
water, which was beyond my strength. But what did father care 
for this? He would not do it of himself, but if somebody had 
paid him well he would have sold me outright. I reflected, how- 
ever, that God would probably help me to hold out. And then 
I went to sleep, for it was rather late for me. 

My master's character, as I knew it, was not good. He spent 
the whole day in the tavern, and when he came back late at night 
and his wife grumbled at him, he beat her with a stick. I heard 
with my own ears what happened once when he came home drunk. 
His wife showed him a picture of St. Mary Magdalene, saying: 
"See with what anger she looks on your drunkenness! .Have 
some regard, if not for me, then at least for our children!" But 
he, in his drunkenness, became infuriated and cried: "Go to 
cholera, together with your Mary Magdalene!" And I heard 
him throw the image on the floor. She fled to another room and 
shut the door. He struck the door with all his strength with 
the stick which he always carried with him, but she did not open 
it. He threw himself on the sofa, and then it was quiet, for he 
slept. Scenes like this occurred frequently when Mr. D. was 
drunk, and he was drunk two or three times a week. 

In the third quarter of my first year in Mr. D.'s bakery, things 
grew worse with me. There was more baking in the winter, and 
Janek did not want to make the dough any more, so I had to 
work inside the bakery as well as outside. I was tired out with 
bringing water and carrying rolls around the town. I had to 
bring water not six, but eight times every day, and still oftener 
before market on Sunday and on the two week-days on which 
they had markets. When they washed I had to stay in the 
kitchen all day and fetch water for them. When it snowed I 
had to clear the sidewalks. Perhaps I should have been able to 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 123 

do all this work if Janek had not worried me with his extraor- 
dinary demands. He made me shine his shoes, prepare water 
for washing his hands and face, and brush his clothes. When 
he overslept at night he beat me, and when he spoiled anything 
he beat me, saying it was my fault that he spoiled it. He some- 
times deliberately prevented me from going to sleep during the 
whole day [and night] even for a single hour, for he told me to 
watch the dough and rouse him when it was ready.' It was 
really impossible to bear all this, so I resolved to beg my parents 
to find some way out. 

One Sunday I did my work as speedily as possible and asked 
my master for permission to go to Lubotyd for one night. Mr. 
D. gave me the permission, telling me to return the next day at 
four. I wanted to buy some rolls for 20 grosz to take home to 
my family, but Mr. D. would not accept any money, and gave 
me all I asked for. I had been to the beer-shop the day before 
and learned that my father was in Lubotyfi, so I went straight 
there without stopping at the beer-shop. I could have settled 
this matter in Sompolno, for father was there more often than 
in Lubotyi, but I wanted to speak with father and mother to- 
gether. By the time I had greeted everybody at home and given 
them the rolls, my mother knew that I came with bad news and 
she began to question me. So I told them everything. My 
parents listened to my story and asked me what I wanted to do. 
I answered that I wished father would go to Mr. D. and ask him 
to stop making me carry water and to make Janek treat me better, 
and if Mr. D. refused I would go elsewhere to finish my apprentice- 
ship. I had not yet finished speaking when my sister Florentyna 
began to abuse me saying: ^' You lazy fellow, you are accustomed 
to running away from apprenticeship and you like it. Father, 
get a stick and give him a few good whacks. Then he will go 
back and not complain. What kind of an idea is this that such 
a whelp should govern his parents?" After this strong argument 
from sister Florcia, I had nothing to say, but sat in a comer and 
cried.' In the evening I w^nt to Mr. D.'s house to complain to 
them. When Mrs. D. learned everything she advised me to 

* Bullying is a handworker tradition, deaigned to preserve the hierarchical 
attitudes. 

' The sister takes the standpoint of the claims of the family as against 
the individual, and since the family as a whole has superior rights to the 



124 THE POLISH PEASANT 

leave Mr. Degurski and go to Kalisz where Jozef was an apprentice. 
They began to tell me how well oflF he was there; he never carried 
any water nor wood, he got 3 roubles a week, for he was paid 
6 grosz for every sack of flour he baked, and on Friday he baked 
bread for the Jewish Sabbath and earned about 2 roubles more. 
This tale pleased me very much and I wanted to go to Kalisz 
also. I could easily get the money, but how could I get the 
passport? Without a passport I could not go, and without 
father's permission they woruild not give me a passport. Finally 
I resolved to take the first opportunity and go at any price. It 
was 105 ^orsta to Kalisz. Kazia gave me Jozef s address. I 
then bade them goodbye and went home, for it was late. The 
next day after dinner I went back to Sompolno . . . and set 
about my usual work. Before a week passed my father came, 
abused Janek well and then went upstairs to Mr. Degurski. I 
don't know what their conversation was but the result was that 
Janek began to tease me still more. One morning four weeks 
after the occurrences just described, I had finished carrying the 
rolls around the town and had just returned tonhe bakery when 
Mr. D. entered, holding in his hands three crescents and two rolls, 
which he had found in the pocket of my Sunday suit. Mr. D. 
called me a thief, said that he did not expect me to steal, and 
when I began to swear that I knew nothing about them and did 
not steal any rolls, Mr. D. struck me several times on the ear in 
great anger. I was guiltless and this made me desperate. I knew 
that Janek must have put the rolls there in order to destroy my 
master's confidence in me. But what could I do? How could 
I prove it? There was no way and my only resource was to 
revenge myself upon Janek. But how? I resolved to break 
one of his legs some time when he was asleep. I would take a 
piece of wood — there was plenty in the bakery — strike him 
with all my strength on the legs, and then run away. I 
began to work out my plans. I received a letter from Jozef in 
which he wrote me to come to Kalisz, as his master would receive 
me at any time. I was all ready to go except for the passport. 
But fate decreed differently. 

One Sunday a restaurant-keeper sent a piece of pork to be 



individual there is little place for pity, as in general wherever there is an 
opposition between individual interest and group interest. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 125 

baked, but as he was never willing to pay 10 grosz for it Janek 
went « walking that morning instead of baking the pork. He 
wanted to teach the man to pay. But things happened other- 
wise. When this restaurant-keeper sent for his pork at noon the 
maid brought it to him as it was, uncooked, and at that moment 
Mr. Degurski was in the restaurant. He had great consideration 
for the restaurant-keeper, who took bread from him, and as he 
was somewhat ashamed and still more angry because the restau- 
rant-keeper began to scoff, he came running to the bakery to 
beat Janek. Happily, the latter was not there. Mr. D. did 
not say a word to me, for it was none of my business. He swore 
savagely a score of times and returned to the restaurant. In 
the evening Janek returned but before I had time to tell him 
everything Mr. D. came in and began to beat him, raining blows 
on him from above wherever he could reach him. Janek knelt 
down, begged, implored, but without avail. When the master 
got tired of torturing the defenseless boy, he went out. He had 
beaten him so much that although I did not like Janek I pitied 
him.' Janek lay down and did not work that night at all, but 
I awakened Mr. D. A few days after this beating typhoid fever 
developed in Janek. His head was swollen as big as a bucket, 
his hair fell out, and in a word, he became dangerously sick. And 
he had nobody to care for him, no doctor, nor medicine, nor 
suitable food. He just lay in the bakery upon a hard bed, and 
I alone gave him water and changed his linen, from pity. For 
six weeks he lay senseless and did not rise from his bed. Nobody 
even came to visit him or asked about him. Such is the lot of 
an apprentice b»6y! His parents are glad that they have sent 
their son away from home and given him to some drunkard like 
Mr. D. who instead of making a man of him and inculcating good 
principles in him takes his health and strength away once and 
forever. And the boy does not dare to complain to his parents, 
for they will not listen to him.* And what else could befall 
me? 

' This vicarious satisfaction of vengeance has an evident importance for 
the process of the legalization of vengeance, as we shall illustrate in later 
volumes. 

'According to tradition the master was to be the ''second father '* of 
the apprentice and had full paternal authority over him under the control 
of the guild, as the father's authority was under control of the family. When 



126 THE POLISH PEASANT 

I was now still more determined to leave Mr. D. as soon as 
possible and I went to see my parents once more, begging them 
to change my apprenticeship, but it was like throwing peas against 
the wall. They even refused to listen. So I was obliged to take 
things into my own hands. When I returned to the bakery Janek 
began to get about a little. I forgot about vengeance and thought 
only about myself. I went to the butcher who lived in the same 
house and borrowed a butcher's knife to cut one of my fingers 
off. I thought that if I became sick I should have to go home 
and while my hand was getting healed there would be time enough 
to search for another apprenticeship. In order to carry out my 
stupid plan I took the knife to the woodshed and shut the door. 
I found a bit of wood as thick as my finger and I tried the knife 
to see if it was sharp enough. When I had cut the wood, I put 
my finger in its place and raised the knife in order to let it fall, 
on the finger. But at the last moment my courage left me.' 
Tears gushed from my eyes. I laid the knife aside and began 
to think once more about my parents who were so cruel and 
merciless toward me their son. They could do much for one son, 
why would they do nothing for the other? My brother Stanislaw 
was admitted to the teachers' seminary in Leczyca almost a year 
ago and my parents were expecting him home soon for vacation. 
Stanislaw's admission cost about 200 roubles, his clothes, books, 
etc., about another hundred, and they had to send him money 
every month for board, rent and other expenses. My parents 
did not have much money now, for they lost about 600 roubles 
on the first beer-shop, and besides the expenses of my brother 
there was sister Florentyna's dowry. The latter was to marry the 
organist, Mr. C, in spite of my mother's protestations, for mother 
yielded at last and permitted them to marry. Sister was to 



the control is lost the authority is still there and leads to a tyranny to which 
tradition still gives an appearance of justification. Formerly the master 
had an interest in caring for the welfare of the apprentice, because social 
opinion credited him with the future success of the latter, but now no attention 
is paid to this matter. 

' The essential fact is: painful situation — desire for social help — volun- 
tary self-infliction or pretense of suffering, to attract pity. Typical for a 
weak person who tries to escape an unpleasant situation or induce a pleasant 
one by relying on social interference instead of his own activity, and prevalent 
in hysterical women. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 127 

receive 200 roubles for her dowry and she did indeed receive 
them. Thus within a short time, less than three years, my parents 
lost more than a thousand roubles. Moreover, the trade at 
Lubotyn was not as profitable as formerly, when there was a 
tavern, and my parents lost money almost every year in this 
business. So they put all their hope on Stanislaw's getting a job 
when he finished school and taking them to live with him. 

Our parents had got rid of Pawel three months before this, 
sending him to Lodz as a grocer's apprentice. He was to learn 
for four years. The gfocer was obliged to clothe him and to 
send him to a business school. Pawel praised the place, but was 
indignant at our parents for having sent him very poorly equipped 
to the grocer. Father gave him only one rouble for all the expenses 
of the journey, though it was about seventy wiorsta and he went 
by coach. But our parents did not seem to mind this at all, for 
they were evidently glad to get rid of their children as soon as 
possible. They were deaf to my requests, for they were afraid 
I might come home and eat their bread and do nothing.' But I 
did not think of this at all; I only wished to get better conditions 
in order to learn as rapidly as possible and to work for money, 
not to sit at home. 

All this came to my mind while preparing to cut my finger 
off. But I lacked courage. I returned the knife to the butcher 
and resolved to run away at the fir^t opportunity. I did not 
wait very long. A few weeks later mother and sister Florentyna 
came to buy something for sister, whose wedding with C. was 
to be celebrated in a few days. They came to invite me. Mr. D. 
said I could go. On the day before the wedding I took my aprons 
and a few small things and left with the intention of never return- 
ing to this bakery, and so it was. I was in Lubotyii before evening. 
I had nothing to do at home, so I went to see Kazia, who was to 
be my partner [at the wedding]. I won't describe the wedding 
except to say that it was merry and decent. I liked particularly 
the "Veni Creator," for it was sung by ten good organists with 
the accompaniment of the whole organ. I was going to leave 
in the evening and I got a little money from sister Marya by 

' In the primary agricultural group the child is an asset (c/. Jablkowski 
series. Vol. I), but in the isolated marriage group he becomes an economic 
burden. Child tabor has furnished one solution of the problem for the im- 
migrant group in America. 



128 THE POLISH PEASANT 

begging for it. Brother Aleksy and hi$ wife left after dinner and 
Stanisiaw remained. Stani$law looked very nico in his school 
uniform, and this made him and our parents very proud. 



As soon as brother Aleksy left I began to prepare for my 
journey, though I did not know yet where to go. I knew that 
I would not return to Mr. Degurski but I had no definite plans. 
I left at three o'clock and father was to return to the beer shop 
two hours later. I had prepared a small bundle and hidden it 
in the stable, where I found it after bidding them goodbye at 
home. I took it and started on an aimless journey.^ Nobody 
knew my intention except the teacher's family. But I did not 
go to see them nor the priest. When I had walked for about two 
wiorsta I saw a hayrick standing near the road. Without much 
reflection I dug myself into the hay and slept. When I awoke 
it was night. I went on to Sompolno alone, not knowing what 
to do. When I came to the town it was dark everywhere. I 
went directly to the Jewish bakery, for a Polish journeyman 
whom I knew worked there. I climbed the fence around the 
courtyard, as the door was closed. When I got in the journey- 
man asked me what I was doing. I told him everything. He 
neither persuaded nor dissuaded me from my intentions but told 
me to lie down on the oven, and when his rolls were baked he gave 
me some. I filled my pockets with them and the next morning 
before sunrise I left the bakery and Sompolno, going in the direc- 
tion of Kalisz. About eight wiorsta from Sompolno was the 
village of Lubstowo, where an organist whom I knew lived. When 
I reached Lubstowo it was about eight o'clock in the morning 

' In this first vagabonding excursion, as in many of the later ones, the 
objective reason is not sufficient to explain the action. There is evidently 
in the boy a pre-existing disposition to change and a desire for adventure 
which under the influence of any external factor becomes the vagabonding 
attitude. The aimlessness of the excursion is an interesting point. When 
the individual's life is organized from the outside and he has to adapt himself 
passively to the ready social frame, he needs little distant or conscious purpose. 
And the individual does not seem to feel uncomfortable on this account, does 
not realize the lack of plans even if he feels his helplessness. Such cases are 
frequent in social work. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 129 

and I resolved to call on him. The organist was very astonished 
at my arrival and asked what was the cause of my visit. I told 
him that I was going to get my passport [from the commune 
office] in Sosnowiec for I had an apprenticeship in Turek. ''How 
can that be true?'' asked the organist. ''No longer ago than the 
day before yesterday I was talking to your father and he told me 
that you were learning in Sompolno with Mr. Degurski. And 
today, such a big change! You lie, you have certainly run away 
and now you don't know yourself where you are going.'* Finally 
he told his wife to give me some breakfast and went to the church. 
I did not wait for his return but went on as soon as I finished 
breakfast. And now I decided that I really would go to the 
commune office, as the secretary, who was a good friend of my 
parents, would perhaps give me the passport. With this idea I 
hurried in order to be there before the evening, as the commune 
office was at least fifteen wiorsta from Lubstowo. My way led 
through Makolno, where I knew the organist well also, as he often 
visited my parents. I thought that as I had breakfasted with 
one organist I should dine with the other.' When I entered the 
vestibule he met me and asked what I was doing there. I could 
not tell him that I was going to get my passport, for I was off 
the road from Lubotyii to Sosnowiec, but I answered boldly 
that I was going to brother Aleksy, for this was exactly the 
way to him. The organist was much astonished. "Your 
brother left yesterday, and you are going to him today? 
Why, something important must have happened!" In his 
astonishment he raised his voice and was overheard by 
Kazimierz, the brother of my brother-in-law, who by a strange 
coincidence was at this very moment in the house. When 
Kazimierz heard the voice he opened the door and was very 
much astonished at seeing me. Without waiting for what I 
should say he began to talk to the organist, telling him not to 
believe me, for I was lying. He said that I had run away from 
my apprenticeship and was loafing around the country. And 
he began to abuse me in the presence of the organist, saying that 
I was a bad boy who caused my parents a great deal of grief, for 
they thought I had drowned myself in the lake and they cried 
and searched for me everywhere. He said that he had just come 

' On this first expedition WUdek calls only on bis acquaintances, and 
claims only the hospitality normal in the country. 



ijo THE POLISH PEASANT 

from Lubotyd and was going back at once — he had come only 
to borrow some wafers — so I should go with him and I should 
not be afraid, as my parents would not beat me, for they had 
forgiven me everything and only wanted me to come back. I 
answered nothing, but the organist began to persuade me to go 
back. Then he invited us in and gave us dinner, during which 
he asked me to tell why I had run away. When I told him every- 
thing he agreed that I was right but said that I ought to go home 
and not loaf about like a tramp. He asked me to promise him to 
go back with Kazimierz and I did it without hesitation. When 
the wafers were ready, we went to Lubotyn. I did not go home 
at once, but went to the teacher's house first, drank some tea 
there and remained until eight o'clock in the evening. Suddenly 
my youngest brother appeared and told me to come home, for 
neither father nor mother was there, as they were not coming 
back from Sompolno until the next morning. But I refused to 
listen and chased him away. Half an hour later my sister and 
brother-in-law came urging me to go home. I did not listen to 
them. Sister then began to abuse Mrs. D., saying that it was not 
nice of her to keep such a boy as I away from home and to spoil 
him. Seeing a quarrel ahead, I got up, took my hat and said I 
would go home. When we left the room, my brother-in-law 
caught hold of my coat to keep me from running away again. 
When we were outside on the street and I felt that he was not 
holding me very tight, I broke away and ran into a field. He 
tried to catch me but stumbled and fell down, for it was rather 
dark and beginning to rain. He could not catch me, so they called 
me a few times and went home. I returned to the village and 
began to think about a sleeping-place for the night. I did not 
dare to go back to Mrs. D. I remembered that there was some 
hay in the garret of our house and that it was possible to go up 
without attracting anybody's attention. As it was now raining 
hard and I could no longer remain outside, I decided to try out 
this idea. I first looked in the window to find out what they were 
doing. Everybody was busy, but my sister was talking ener- 
getically to her husband about something. I opened the front 
door noiselessly and found the ladder, and went up. I buried 
myself in the hay and slept. The next day, as soon as I awoke 
I went to the forge. The blacksmith's wife and the boys urged 
me to go home, but I did not yield until C. came and took me. 



I 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 131 

My sister ordered me to wash myself and say my prayers and 
afterwards gave me breakfast. All would have been well perhaps 
if sister had not abused me and frightened me again with regard 
to my father, saying that the rope was wet [for beating], the stick 
ready, and so on. Then I thought: "Why should I await my 
father's coming so that he can torture me!" And I resolved to 
run away again. When an opportunity came I stole 40 copecks 
from the drawer, a bit of dry sausage and some bread. When I 
had everything in my pocket, I said to my sister: "I will go, for 
I don't want father to beat me. Tell father that when I meet 
him I will talk with him as with a father." Without waiting 
for her answer I left the house and wandered in the neighborhood 
of Lubotyn the whole day, not knowing where to go. In the 
evening I came back. I first looked through the window. My 
parents were there and Stanisiaw also. I went to the blacksmith's 
house to stay a little while, for it was too early to go to sleep. I 
was cold, for it had rained the whole day and I had had nothing 
warm in my stomach. In the blacksmith's house I learned that 
my father was searching for me and that Stanisiaw had been 
there asking for me. I stayed till nine and then went to look for 
a place to sleep. I could not go to the garret because I feared 
father might find me, for my sister had probably told him that 
I spent the previous night there. I preferred to go to the stable, 
where there was also some straw. The gate to the yard was 
locked so I resolved to climb over the fence. But no sooner had 
I begun to climb than the wind tore my hat off. I came down 
and searched but could not find it. I went again to the black- 
smith, the boys lighted a lantern and we began to search, but in 
vain. We were returning to the forge and were just at the door 
when my father caught me, took my hand and started home. I 
went with him, though very unwillingly, for I did not dare to run 
away. When we entered the house my father dropped my hand. 
I begged his pardon and sat down near the door with the intention 
of running away if he wanted to beat me. Father asked me where 
my hat was and when I told him that the wind had blown it away, 
he asked where it went and stepped out. I thought he was going 
for the wet rope, but to my astonishment I saw a lantern in his 
hand. He went to look for the hat and searched a long time but 
returned with nothing, saying that it would be found the next 
morning. Then he said his prayers and went to sleep. I ate 



132 THE POLISH PEASANT 

supper and did the same, but still fearful, for I did not yet believe 
father and thought that I should get the beating after undressing. 
I was mistaken, however, in this. A few days later my father 
brought the rest of my clothes home but did not say a word about 
my returning to Mr. Degurski.' And so, without any important 
incidents, three weeks passed. 

When Stanisiaw went to see Aleksy to bid him goodbye I 
went with him. Aleksy abused me a little, saying that I could 
not hold out at any place but was dissatisfied everywhere, and 
so it ended. On the third morning of our visit Aleksy went away 
to Konin. We were to return to Lubotyfi the following day. 
As soon as Aleksy left our sister-in-law treated us in a very inhos- 
pitable manner. Usually the maid asked us to come to breakfast 
in the living-room, but on that day our sister-in-law "deigned" 
to send breakfast to us in the office [they probably slept in the 
office]. When the maid brought the tea she said that we should 
eat our breakfast there, for her mistress was still asleep. We 
each drank one glass of tea. The maid then brought two more 
glasses, but no more sugar. When we asked why there was no 
sugar she answered that she had brought four pieces of sugar, 
which should be enough for four glasses of tea. Stanisiaw asked 
her to bring some more. After a moment she came back with 
nothing, saying that her mistress refused to give us any more 
sugar. So we told her to take the tea back to the kitchen and to 
tell her mistress that when she rose she could drink it to our health 
for breakfast. Then we left without a farewell and went to 
Lubotyn, abusing our sister-in-law on the way. Before we had 
been at home long enough to recover from the hospitable reception 
our kind sister had given us, a special messenger from her arrived 

' The interesting point is the lack of any endeavor to clear up the situation, 
to come to a common basis of understanding. This is a frequent case among 
peasants, and its source is the difficulty of defining a new situation. Where, 
as in the peasant organization, situations are largely defined by tradition the 
individual lacks the habit of doing it. This seldom has bad consequences if 
the background of attitudes of the individuals concerned is the same, for* then 
an understanding is effected through sentiment rather than through rational 
agreement, as in the present case. But if the attitudes do not harmonize 
the lack of definiteness of the situation makes an understanding impossible. 
This is one of the factors in the innumerable quarrels and lawsuits among the 
peasants since the new family and neighborship relations have begun to 
develop. 



,^v 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 133 

with a letter to father asking him to punish the whelps well for 
having ofiFended her, especially for having done it through the 
maid) who would now gossip about her in the village. But father 
disliked his daughter-in-law as much at that time as we did, which 
was lucky for us, for he merely asked us in detail what happened 
and said, ''All right." He ordered the messenger who brought the 
letter to say that the boys would be taught to respect their sister- 
in-law. Then he ordered tea be given him with two pieces of 
sugar to each glass and went away. Then I said to the messenger: 
"You see my father does not grudge sugar to you, who are a 
stranger, while our sister-in-law refused to give sugar to us, her 
brothers. You may tell her this." — "All right," he said. He 
finished eating, thanked us, and went back, impressed by the 
hospitality of my parents. 

We did not like our sister-in-law because she was very proud 
of herself and her position [as wife of the cummunal secretary or 
perhaps as member of a somewhat superior family] and she treated 
us as if we were not related at all to her. She made my father 
feel this more than once and he therefore disliked her greatly. 
Moreover she was not in the least hospitable and this drove us 
all away from her. My mother would never go to see her although 
she was often invited to go. In short she did not enjoy the sym- 
pathy of our family nor even of her neighbors, and after that 
letter and after what the messenger told her the relations became 
still more strained. She could not bear to look at me in particular 
since that time, so I ceased to call on them. 

A few days after this letter Stanisiaw returned to Leczyca. . . 
I loafed about the country till January. My only distractions 
were books, Kazia, and mushroom-gathering. When the mush- 
rooms were abundant father was in Lubotyd and one evening 
he announced that we should all go to the forest the next morning 
for mushrooms. On the way to the forest father called me and 
asked me when I intended to talk to him as to a father. He said 
that he had waited a long time and still I did not talk. I kissed 
his hand at once and began to tell him how bad it was at Mr. 
Degurski's bakery in Sompolno. Then I showed him Jdzefs 
letter from Kalisz, and begged him to get a passport for me and 
let me go to Jozef s place. Father promised all this and said 
I should go after Christmas.' On the way back from the forest 

* The problem is put on the basis of affection, and a moment free from 



134 THE POLISH PEASANT 

I stopped at the teacher's house in order to tell them at once. 
They were very glad also that I was going to be with their son. 
Bronisiaw had worked the whole summer at the manor. The 
girls bought winter hats for themselves with the money he earned 
while he went around as before in nothing but rags. When there 
was no more work in the field, he took a rope and went to the forest 
after dry wood. Sometimes he went four times a day and as he 
was a strong boy he brought wood enough to keep them warm. 
They had no money to buy firewood, and they could not even 
think of letting him go away from home, for if he were not there 
who would work for them? ' Mr. D.'s oldest daughter had no 
luck about her marriage either. There were boys enough, it is 
true, but they came only to eat and drink well. There was one, 
about whom I wrote in the beginning, but the teacher refused to 
give the girl to him, saying that he did not educate her to be a 
simple peasant's wife. And so years passed, and Miss Pelagia 
remained a maiden, for even that first one ceased to come when 
he learned how he was talked about. 



On Christmas my father brought my passport. So after New 
Year I left for Turek with a letter for Jozef. Father promised to 
visit me in Turek in the summer and come to an understanding 
with my future master. So after a sincere farewell I left, carrying 
in my pocket my passport and almost 3 roubles of money. My 
father, it is true, gave me only i rouble, but I got more myself 
[probably stole from the drawer]. ... It was about eighteen 
wiorsta to Koio, and I made this part of my journey afoot. 

practical carea is selected. We have seen (Vol. I: 288) that the peasant needs 
complete freedom from practical preoccupations to be able to give himself 
to sentimental or intellectual interests. 

' A good example of the subordination of the individual to the family. 
In the peasant family the individual makes no sacrifice by his subordination, 
because the group embodies his interests. But here the familial organization 
is decaying, and while the family still demands as much as possible from the 
member it is unconscious of and unable to perform its duties toward him. It 
is the counterpart of the one-sided individualization where the member con- 
tinues to make the old claims upon the family, but rejects the familial claims 
and refuses to subordinate his own interests to those of the group. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 135 

In the beginning I felt very cold, but later I warmed myself by 
walking, and in the evening I was in Koio. [In Turek] I learned 
from Jozef that Mr. W. drank much, that Stasia was very much 
in love with him [Jozef], and that he had an affair with Kasia, 
the maid. In general he praised the conditions, said that he had 
money enough, and that he would be emancipated in a year and 
a half. . . . Then we went to sleep, for we had to rise at four 
to make the dough and to dine. At four Kasia roused us, bringing 
a note with an order of bread for tomorrow. I could not notice 
at first that Kasia was in love with Jozef though he often kissed 
and embraced her, but very cautiously, so that the master should 
not see him. 

And so my time passed in working. In the summer my father 
came to see me. He talked it over with Mr. W. I was to learn 
for two years, and my father was to pay for my emancipation. 
I was very well satisfied with the change. I earned so much 
money that I could buy all the clothes I needed. 

But nothing is without a ''but." Thus it was also with us. 
Mr. and Mrs. W. went to a party, Jozef began to amuse himself 
with the maid. He bought wine, brandy and zakqski [relishes], 
and began to foolish with her. But he must have been pretty 
well drunk, for he lay down with Kasia in her bed and slept until 
Mr. W. roused him with a good whip lash. Jozef ran in his 
drawers into the bakery, where I had done almost everything — 
for I had been about a year in Turek. [Jozef runs away. Mr. W. 
takes a larger place, with five journeymen.] Then a true day of 
judgment came for me. I was not allowed to work at the dough, 
but they ordered me to serve them. At night they told me to 
buy beer and brandy; they brought girls to the bakery. They 
called me always, "You whore's son!" I went often to Mrs. W. 
to complain, but it did not help very much, for they could not 
drive all the journeymen away for me alone. And Mr. W. almost 
never came to bakery, but drank and drank, ceaselessly. Once 
the journeyman who made the rolls spoiled the dough which had 
been prepared from about three sacks of flour. They put the 
dough into sacks and ordered the servant to throw them into the 
river. I could not stand it and told Mrs. W.^ She repeated it 

* Along with the desire for revenge and the attempt to please the master, 
there is probably the traditional peasant attitude that ''good food must not 
be wasted." 



136 THE POLISH PEASANT 

to her husband and Mr. W. came to the bakery in the evening and 
asked whether it was true. But they did not think of confessing 
their guilt. There were five of them and the servant was the 
sixth. When the master asked them they all said as one man 
that it was not true. So I became a liar. The master excused 
himself to them, and the journeyman who made the rolls threw 
a scraper at me with such force that it stuck in my side. It was 
in the presence of the master, who said nothing. What could I do? 
In view of such conditions nothing was left for me but to change 
the place of my apprenticeship again. It was, however, just 
before Easter and I postponed it until that time. But a few 
days after what happened in the bakery, I was sleeping upon the 
oven when Kasia came to rouse me for dinner. She pulled me 
by the leg, I rose hurriedly and fell down upon the flour and struck 
with my right temple upon the edge of a bin which stood under 
the oven. Blood gushed from my wound. I covered it with 
paper, ate the dinner and went to sleep again. In the evening 
when they awakened me to work, I could not rise. My whole 
face was swollen so much that I could not see from either eye. 
The next day I had fever and was badly sick. Stasia came, took 
the paper away and washed my wound. A week later I got much 
worse, so that my master wanted to send me to the hospital, but 
I begged Mrs. W. and Stasia not to allow him to send me, and 
so it was decided.' It was a month before I could rise from my 
bed, but I still could not work. Two weeks remained until 
Easter, and I had long ago got the permission of my master to go 
home for the holidays. Before my illness I bought nice shoes 
for four roubles; I had also bought a new suit with my own money, 
so that now, when I came back to health, I had only one rouble 
left. But I had no trouble about money, for Mrs. W. said that 
she would give me some, and Stasia promised also to give me a 
rouble. But alas! another trouble awaited me, for when I looked 
into the closet where my clothes were kept I could nowhere find 
my shoes. I searched; I wept. It did not help. Somebody 
had stolen them, my new shoes, which I had never yet had upon 
my feet! I asked Stasia, Mrs. W. and everybody, but nobody 
had seen them. I could do nothing, for [at another time] I could 
have earned some money, but now the holidays were too near. 

'The fear of the hospital based on the ar^ment that "so many people 
die there." 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 137 

What should I wear when going to Lubotyfi? So thinking and 
weeping I lay upon my bed on the oven until Stasia, moved by 
pity, came upon the oven to comfort me. She said that she would 
ask her father to buy me shoes or at least to give me a pair, for 
he had some pairs of shoes almost new. But I answered her that 
I should not be calmed as long as I had no shoes. She went and 
soon brought me a pair of almost new shoes. They were a little 
too large, but I bought some felt for insoles for twenty grosz, and 
they suited me perfectly. 

On Good Monday I was able to begin work, but a scar remained 
for my whole life near my right eye. The master had not yet 
ordered me to work, but I was bored with lying. I did not talk 
at all with the journeymen, except when any one of them ordered 
me to do something. I was to go to my parents on Good Thurs- 
day. When Thursday came I had been dressed since early 
morning and went to buy an Easter lamb, for which I paid half 
a rouble. I bought also a few good cakes in a candy-shop, came 
back, packed everything I owned — since I did not intend to 
come back — and went to say goodbye. I asked Mr. W. to 
give me my passport for the journey, saying that I might be 
arrested on the way, but he refused to give it to me under any 
circumstances, saying that I did not need it. He gave me a 
rouble for the journey and told me to come back immediately 
after Praewody [Sunday after Easter]. Then I bade goodbye 
to Mrs. W., who gave me two roubles and a nice necktie, and 
much food for my journey. But this was not the end, for Stasia 
brought me apples and perhaps two pounds of sweetmeats to the 
bakery.' I kissed her on the hand for it, for I had not yet thanked 
her for the shoes, so this was for all together. She gave me 
another half rouble and asked me to come back soon, for it entered 
nobody's head that I might not come back. I was not sure myself, 
for I did not know what my parents would say. If they wished 
it absolutely, I would return, for the conditions were not bad and 
I wished to change my place only on account of the journeymen. 

I left Turek at four in the afternoon. The following day about 
three I was in Lubotyn. When I entered the village everybody 
I met greeted me and said that I had grown to be a big man; 
they had not seen me for a year and a half. At home they were 

' Accepting the gifts was normal and implied no social inferiority, since 
the apprentice was assimilated to the family. 



138 THE POLISH PEASANT 

very glad, for Pawei and Stach were also to come, while Aleksy 
intended to drop in on the second holiday. Our parents rejoiced 
that the whole family would be at home for Easter. When I 
washed myself and put my clothes in order, I opened the valise 
and gave my mother what I had brought. Mother was very 
glad that I remembered my parents and everybody at home was 
glad to see me. In the evening I went to Mr. D.'s house. How 
difiFerent it was there! They did not expect anybody, nobody was 
to come to them, and the boys were in rags, like the worst goose- 
boy. Jozef had been in Lubotyn for half a year, and carried 
dry wood from the forest, so the clothes which he had brought 
were torn, and there was no money to buy a new suit. When 
I came in and greeted everybody without excepting the teacher, 
they asked me at once how it was with that Kasia. I related 
what I thought good to tell. Then they wondered that I was 
so well dressed, and Kazia invited me to come for the consecrated 
egg [to divide it, to exchange wishes, to eat and to drink]. Then 
I left, in order not to disturb the holiday preparations. The 
following day, Pawei and Stach came, so we had a good time. 
During the holidays we were in the teacher's house; Stach 
played a violin which he brought from Leczyca, and he knew how to 
play well enough. Pawei did not play worse than he, so we made 
a little dancing party, for in our family everybody knew how to 
dance, and the daughters of Mr. D. knew also. But as to the 
boys, they did not know even how to turn themselves, and be- 
sides they did not come into the room, for they had no clothes. 
But when no strangers were there we amused ourselves all together, 
for they were not ashamed of us, because we knew already very 
well how they were living. . . . During the next week I had 
occasion to talk with my parents about my future. When I 
related in what conditions I was my parents did not force me at 
all to return there, but left me my free will. I had as yet no plan 
at all, although I had talked it over with Jdzef. Jozef s cousin 
was a baker and had his own bakery in BrzeS£. So Jozef tried 
to persuade me to finish my apprenticeship with him. I did not 
answer him at once, but now that my parents permitted me I 
went to Jozef and we wrote a letter asking him to admit both of 
us. In the week after Easter my father ordered the three of us 
brothers to go to the Easter confession, and we went, although 
rather unwillingly. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 139 

On Przewody a few young people came to us, and we wanted 
to dance but none of my brothers wished to play for they wanted 
to dance themselves. My brother-in-law, hearing this, proposed 
that we go to him and promised us to play piano. And so we 
did. Antosia, the miller's daughter, fell much in love with me. 
When we played at forfeits and a boy was wanted she always 
called for me, and Jozef was very jealous, for he was courting her. 
And so when Antosia and I were sitting upon a sofa Jozef sat 
down at the other side of her. We were very close and nobody 
could see from the front what we did behind our backs. And 
there a romance and a duel went along. Antosia took my hand 
and clasped her waist with my arm and I gave my hand to her 
as she wished. But unfortunately Jozef acted in the same way 
himself, and clasped her waist. She threw his hand away and 
held mine, and it went on so until Jozef gave me the sign to yield 
by a hard pinch in the side. I yielded, but then again we acted 
in the same manner. He always threw my hand aside, but she 
always took it again and caressed it. Jozef, becoming angry, 
caught my finger and almost broke it so that I hissed from pain. 
Everybody noticed it and asked what was the matter. I said 
that I had a cramp in my finger, rose and sat down near Kazia, 
who guessed my flirting with Antosia and only looked at us side- 
wise. But when I rose Antosia also changed her seat and 
manoeuvered so that a moment later she sat again at my side. 
Unwilling to give Kazia too much for thought, I asked my brother- 
in-law to play and proposed a dance to Kazia. She refused at 
first, saying that her feet ached, but when I began to beg her 
earnestly she rose to dance. During the dance I asked her why 
she did not wish to dance with me and whether her feet really 
ached. Then she answered that not her feet but her heart ached 
when she saw my flirtation with Antosia.' I calmed her as well 
as I could, saying that I gave no cause [did not begin the flirta- 

' Wladek is nearly always successful with women and never successful 
in the line of practical activity. The desire for social recognition can take 
either direction. The homme aux femmes neglects the opinion of other men 
and is insignificant when measured by their standards. His success is mainly 
due to the fact that women are attracted by a man in the proportion to the 
attention he gives to them generically, not individually. In Wladek the 
substitution of the opinion of women for that of men is not complete but is 
sufficient to make his interests vary with the type of woman he meets. 



r 

/ 



140 THE POLISH PEASANT 

tion]. Then Kazia told me that Jozef was in love with Antosia, 
and the latter was only pretending so [to be in love with me]. 
Although I did not believe at all that Antosia cared for Josef, I 
pretended to believe it. And thus it came that I got reconciled 
with Kazia during the dance, and when we sat down we began 
to flirt boldly, as if we were engaged, for so people called us, and 
we did not feel restrained at all. At last my sister treated us 
all with supper, and we began to leave. We four — the three 
brothers and sister Marya — and also the teacher^s children, 
accompanied the two miller's girls and their brother home. The 
road led through a forest. In the village we walked all together, 
but beyond the village we divided into pairs. Antosia took me 
by the arm and ordered her brother to take Kazia, but the latter 
did not accept him or anybody else and went with my sister. 
But Antosia's intention to flirt with me ended in nothing, for 
J5zef, like an evil spirit, was always with us, although Antosia 
told him more than once, almost brutally, to go away, saying: 
"Fie, Mr. Jozef, it is not nice to be so importunate, or plainly 
speaking, such a saucy fellow, and not to allow us to talk a little." 
But this did not help much, he went with us until the moment of 
separation. . . . The miller's daughters and their brother asked 
us all to come to them next Sunday and amtise ourselves again. 
Pawel and Stach refused, saying that they were going away, 
and the rest of us accepted the invitation. We turned back and 
I approached Kazia and wanted to take her arm, but she spumed 
me, saying: "I may as well walk alone, and you, go to Miss 
Antosia." At the first moment I went to the other side of the 
road and walked alone also but this did not last long for I felt 
sorry for Kazia and came near her again in order to ask her pardon. 
I excused myself, saying that it was not I who took her but she 
took me, and it would not have been proper for me to spurn her. 
But she refused to be persuaded until I asked Stach, as the 
most fashionable man among us, whether Miss Kazia was right 
to be angry with me for what I had done. Stach said very 
seriously that it was not proper for a man to spurn any woman, 
even if he hated her, and therefore Kazia was not right in being 
angry with me. Without waiting for Kazia's answer he went 
back to Miss Pelagia, whom he accompanied during the whole 
walk. After this Kazia forgave me easily and asked me whether 
I loved her. Of course I said yes, and to prove it kissed her hand. 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 141 

for the first time since we had been acquainted. Kazia, glad and 
satisfied with my love, took me herself by the arm and so we 
came home, talking about the future. 

We went to the miller's, as agreed. I don't know what hap- 
pened to me, but I promised myself that I would not dance, 
although I liked dancing very much.' But it was not a simple 
dance. In one room tables were set with beer and brandy. In 
the other room we were to dance. Antosia showed great joy at 
my coming; I got the best bits, and this was a new cause of sorrow 
to Jozef. When we had eaten enough everybody went to the 
other room to dance and I remained alone with Mr. Wyszyfiski 
[Antosia's father]. Mr. W. was a rather rich man; he had his 
own water-mill, thirteen morgs of good land, two horses, some 
head of cattle, all kinds of farm buildings. He was somewhat 
acquainted with the world. He poured a glass of beer for me 
and began to talk. He advised me not to keep much company 
with Jozef, for he was already very spoiled. *^I have had time 
enough to know him," he said, *^for he is a frequent guest in our 
house — even a too frequent one!" At these words he waved 
his hand. Our conversation was interrupted by Antosia who 
came to ask me to go to the dance. But I did not move, only 
said that I would come presently, and we talked on. After a 
moment Kazia came to take me out, but I said the same to her. 
A few minutes later Antosia came again and said something to 
her father in a whisper; he nodded his head and she left. We 
drank another glass of beer each, talked a moment, and then Mr. 
W. rose saying, *^Let us look at the dancing." I could not remain 
alone, and we went, sat down near Mrs. W. and talked. All the 
temptations of the girls to make me dance were of no avail, for 
I answered every one that I would begin later. Evidently they 
could not look at [bear] my not dancing, for they used a subter- 
fuge. They called Mrs. W. out and persuaded her to make me 
dance, saying that when I warmed up it would not be necessary 
to beg me any more. When Mrs. W. came back I guessed at 
once what was the matter, but I was glad, for besides me there 
were other boys, more serious [older] and handsome. A moment 
later one of the girls ordered the ^^ white polka" played, in which 
the girls had the right to ask the boys to dance. But whoever 

* This device for attracting attention and the whole incident are typical 
for Wbdek's interest in response and recognition. 



142 THE POLISH PEASANT 

approached me got a melon,* for I did not want to show preference 
for any of them. Only when Mrs. W. rose and asked me to dance, 
I did not dare to refuse. But Mrs. W. was not satisfied with a 
single dance; she ordered a mazourka played, and although she 
was rather stout she danced well. After the mazourka I thanked 
her by kissing her hand, and then I asked every girl in turn. But 
I began with those whom I knew less. I was afraid to begin with 
either Kazia or Antosia for then the other would be angry. It 
was difficult to come near Antosia for Jozef stood on guard and 
did not move aside a step. When I got a little tired of dancing 
Mr. invited me to drink a glass of beer, and Antosia followed us 
to the next room. There I had the occasion to ask her not to 
be angry if I danced with Kazia first. I explained to her that 
Kazia was very jealous and wrathful. "You are reasonable. 
Miss Antosia, you will forgive me." When Antosia agreed with 
my proposition, I finished my beer and went to the dancing-room, 
asking Antosia not to go with me, in order to arouse suspicions 
in Kazia. When I came into the room Kazia was dancing, but 
her eyes were turned toward the door. When she finished, I 
asked her to dance. She agreed willingly, and while we were 
dancing she asked me whether Antosia had been with me in the 
next room. I said no. Then Kazia began to blame her severely, 
saying that decent girls don't behave like Antosia, don't run after 
boys. "After what boys.?" I asked, "for I did not notice it." — 
"How so," Kazia asked; "don't you see, or do you only pretend 
not to see.? Why all the persons present here have noticed 
already the way she is making sweet eyes at you." Pretending 
to be astonished, I answered: "At me.? It is impossible. Why 
Jozef is guarding her all the time!" — "Do you know that if I 
were Jozef I would give her an ear-box." — " What for .? " — " Well, 
for not keeping him, but running after others." — "Miss Kazia, 
don't fly out, please, it is only hospitality. And then, all girls are 
unsteady." — "Not all, for my opinion is that it is possible to 
love only one person and only once. I can swear that if you don't 
change I will marry nobody except you." — "But Miss Kazia, 
this may change with time. We are still too young to take oaths." 
— "Oh, oh, how scared you are! It is easy to see at once that 
you don't love me." — "How so.? Did I not tell you that I 

* A melon or black soup served at table was formerly an intimation that 
a suitor had no chance. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 143 

loved you? Shall I repeat it continually? People would laugh 
at me if somebody heard." — "All right, let them laugh, I don't 
care." — "But Miss Kazia, I must first be emancipated, set up 
a bakery, and then it will be another question." — "But what is 
the harm if we give our word now to each other? You have read 
the book Marino Marinelliy how he and Annunciata swore love 
to each other, under a cross, on St. Nicholas' island?" — "How 
should I not have read it, since it was I who lent it to you." ' 

On Tuesday we left for BrzeS6. Mr. M. received us gladly 
enough and gave us a very good supper; then he led us to the 
bakery, and again our work began. Jozef and I worked, on Sun- 
day we went together to the church and to walk, and the days 
passed without any important incidents. As to the emancipa- 
tion, our parents were to come in the summer and talk it over. 
Once we began to write letters, I to Kazia and Antosia, and Jozef 
only to Antosia. We quarreled much over this, for he said that 
Antosia would not answer me, and I said the same about him. 
[Through a carpenter's apprentice they meet two girls, Miss A. 
and Miss J., and walk with them daily. Steal flowers for the 
girls from the garden of the prison-warden. Once on an outing] 
we made an agreement that the one who brought back the nicest 
flowers should receive a kiss from his girl in the presence of all. 
. . . When I saw some water-lilies I guessed at once that I should 
win, but I was obliged to take my shoes and stockings off and 
wade into the water. When Miss A. and I came back to the 
appointed place, we found nobody, so I told her that I merited 
a kiss, for certainly the others would have no such flowers. "How 
do you know? Perhaps theirs will be still nicer?" — "But they 
will not go into the water, while I did, and may catch cold if I 
don't take some medicine at once." With these words, I tried 
to kiss her. She defended herself, but not very much, so I accom- 
plished my intention and kissed her pretty well. When I had 
finished she rose, pretending to be offended, but I saw by her 
eyes that she was not. . . . When the others came we began to 
compare our flowers. Mine were really the nicest and the hardest 
to get, so everybody decided that she must kiss me, with my help. 
We kissed, then we ate again, and returned. 

But although Miss A. was really a pretty girl she was not as 

* The conversation is typical for this class. The simple feelings are 
inadequately dressed in a verbiage imitated from noveb. 



146 THE POLISH PEASANT 

commune. We were very well received by him and there was 
enough to eat and drink. 

At night all the men went to sleep in the barn, for it was very 
hot. I did not go at once, but sat down upon a bench in the 
garden and began to reflect about myself. I thought that it was 
already the fourth place which I had left, and I could finish my 
apprenticeship nowhere. How long would this last? Suddenly 
I remembered my parents' kunij my sister Marya's god-father, 
who had already emancipated more than one apprentice. I knew 
certainly that he was a master. He lived in Sosnowiec. So I 
resolved to go to him and to finish my practice there. I felt 
relieved after this decision, for I had an aim already and I should 
not need to stay long in Lubotyn, where I had nothing to do.' 
Yes, Kazia and Antosia were there. But what of it since I was 
only sixteen years old and had not yet the right to think seriously 
about girls. Moreover Kazia was already only a little in my 
memory, and slowly she would evaporate totally. Even now, 
for example, she had come and what was the impression? She 
might be there or not, it made no difference to me. We only 
shook hands for greeting and exchanged a few words, and so the 
matter ended. I did not want to be loved in such a manner. 
But how? I did not know it yet myself, for I had too little ex- 
perience. While I was in Lubotyn and saw only Kazia I thought 
that there was no girl better or prettier than Kazia. But when 
I knew other girls Kazia had less value for me, and when I had 
been sitting with her today for some time I felt much bored. And 
then I had no right to think seriously about any girl, and did not 
wish to do it, for I had other duties more important than girls. 
My aim was to earn money and to open my own business. But 
the realization of my dreams was still far away. 

I reflected long about my lot, sitting alone upon the bench, 
until somebody's steps roused me from my meditation. When 
I turned my father was standing near me. He was only in his 
drawers, barefooted, and his waistcoat hung upon his shoulders. 
He asked me what I was doing here, saying that he had searched 

* The inconsistency of Wkdek's life-policy is due to a conflict between 
Bohemianism and the desire for a stable life-organization. His attitudes 
vary with his social environment. For almost two years he has been in an 
atmosphere where his ideal of emancipation was appreciated, and under this 
influence his life becomes temporarily organized in view of this ideal. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 147 

for me in the barn and could not find me. ^^I am sitting and 
thinking that it is the fourth apprenticeship which I am leaving 
and perhaps there will be more than one still. I am very grieved 
that I must loaf about so. But do you know, father, what I 
have planned?" — "What then, my son?" — "Would not K. 
take me?" — "Which one?" — "The one in Sosnowiec, Marya's 
foster-father." — "True! Why did you not remind me sooner 
about him? You could have gone to him at once and you would 
not have needed to wander so from place to place." Saying this, 
my father sat down near me, groaning that he could not sleep, 
for it was very hard upon the straw, and the gnats bit him. "But 
tell me, Wladzio, why did not you remain with Mr. M., as Jozef 
did? He would perhaps have given you also a rouble a week, 
and you and Jozef would have been emancipated together." 

— "What do you say, father! Jozef will never be emancipated." 

— "Why so?" — "Because he likes girls too much. I will tell 
you, father, but don't repeat it to the teacher." — "Why should 
I repeat it? I don't care for Jozef, he is not my son." Then I 
told my father that Jozef would never put any money aside, for 
he would spend it on drinking with Kasia. I told everything that 
I knew about him. Having heard me to the end, father caught 
himself by the head and was very pained that Jozef behaved so. 
He asked me not to imitate his example, and began to talk about 
God and His mercy, for not a step can be made without God. 
My father was very religious and tried to inculcate the same 
principles into us. Then he began to tell me that he had no longer 
any money, that misery would come into our house if Stach 
did not take father to him. Stach was to finish the seminary 
in a year and a half, and now he costs less, for he received a stipend 
of eight roubles a month. Father complained much about Marya, 
that she was very stubborn and disobedient, and he called her 
nothing but "this she-lizard." He said: "She does not listen 
either to her mother or to me. I shall give her somewhere into 
service as a maid, for she does not want to marry, although she 
has boys enough, and it is difficult for me to feed and dress her. 
And she wants to be dressed nicely! And what have I and your 
mother for it? She never gives us a good word. She thinks we 
are still as rich as we were formerly. If she does not improve I 
shall drive her away from home, that's all. Only you, Wladzio, 
don't look for help toward your parents, for we can give you no 



148 THE POLISH PEASANT 

help. You will have as much as you can earn." And we talked 
long in this way.' 

Late in the evening I went again to the garden to the same 
place as the last night. Almost directly after me came Kazia, 
and began at once to reproach me for my indifference, saying: 
"What does it mean, Mr. Wladek? For two days you have not 
tried at all to come near me. Are you really quite indifferent 
toward me? And you wrote in your letter that you would never 
forget me. Is this the way you keep your word?" — "But, 
Miss Kazia, I am not forgetting yoq at all, and I am not at all 
indifferent toward you, only I am thinking of where I am to go 
in order to finish finally my apprenticeship and not to wander 
any more among strangers." I did not know then, O my God! 
that it was only the beginning of my wandering. "But these are 
not strangers, only my uncle." — "All right, but not mine." — 
"But he will perhaps be yours some day." — "Even so, it won't 
be sooner than about ten years." — "What are you saying, Mr. 
Wladek? I shall be old then, twenty-six years, and then you 
won't wish to have me any more. I thought perhaps three or 
four years at most, and you speak about ten." — "Well, Miss 
Kazia, let us leave this matter and not talk about it, for we have 
time enough; we may talk later on." — "But I should like you 
to give me your word that you will marry me." — "No, I cannot 
do even this, for if I go into the world who knows what will become 
of me? And meanwhile other boys will court you, perhaps better 
and handsomer than I. And I shall perhaps go to the army." — 
"All this is nothing. Only give me your word, and I will wait 
for you however long it may be." — "No, I cannot do it, for I 
don't yet know myself. I don't know whether I shall be able to 
keep my word." -^ "Do you know, Mr. Wladek, that I shall be 
angry with you for saying so." — "Why? For my good advice? 
We can love each other even so, without giving any oaths, and 

' This is evidently the first serious conversation of this kind between 
father and son. The situation has not been favorable for the development of 
Wladek's family attitude. He has been told that he is to expect no help from 
the family, and when the parents begin to share the family responsibility with 
the other sons they do not share it with him. In this way the policy of the 
family tends to isolate him as an independent individual and to give his 
family attitudes the vague form shown later and which can be characterized 
as complete indifference to the family when he is separated from it and de- 
pendence on response when he happens to be with it. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 149 

this will be a better love still, for not obligatory. And if we gave 
our word to each other we might regret it much in the future. 
Even 80 I shall never forget you, Miss Kazia, and will write to 
you often." — "Well, let it be so. We shall see what will be 
later on. Meanwhile tell me, Mr. Wiadek, how long do you think 
of staying in Lubotyn and where do you intend to go after this.^" 
— "I won*t stay in Lubotyd any longer than the time to send a 
letter and to get an answer, and I intend to go to Sosnowiec, to 
Mr. K., and there to finish my apprenticeship. Only I don't 
know whether he will receive me." [The mayor has them driven 
home. Wiadek writes to Mr. K.] 

During my stay at Luboty6 I spent my days with my sister 
and brother-in-law, and my evenings in Mr. D.'s ho\ise. I told 
them different stories which I had the time to read. They were 
most interested about Kmicic and' Woiodyjowski [Sienkiewicz's 
The Deluge] for although there were two girls, not a single book 
could be found in Mr. D.'s home, while I loved books much, bor- 
rowed them wherever I could, subscribed to books published in 
parts. Some of them, such as In Lethargy and Marino Marinelliy 
I owned.* ^ 



After less than a week I received an answer from Mr. K., who 
told me to come as soon as I could. ... He received me very 
kindly and was glad to emancipate the son of his hum. He was 
an old man, perhaps eighty. Moreover he was asthmatic and 
did not do any work. His wife was the real master of the house; 
she managed the whole bakery. [Mr. K. has four sons, all of 
them dissipated. Aleksy is living in S. but Wiadek does not visit 
him, owing to previous trouble with his wife.] I had considera- 
tion in the town. The priest, the druggist, the teacher always 
shook hands with me and called me "Mr." W. For such a whelp 

* Books published in parts constitute the worst sort of sentimental and 
sensational literature. They are usually translations, and sold by Jews. 
Peasants seldom read these books, but (when they learn to read) prefer more 
substantial literature. The same is true of workmen belonging to organiza- 
tions. Fiction seems to be the manifestation of a socially unorganized interest. 
When there are serious common interests in a literate community its members 
become non-fiction readers. C/. Vol. IV. 



ISO THE POLISH PEASANT 

as I was, it was a great honor, and if it happened somewhere in 
a public place it made me very proud. Even sons of rich citizens 
tried to have friendship with me. And I tried always to avoid 
bad company and to join a better one. In a word, I felt very 
well in Sosnowiec, for there was no party without me, and I had 
consideration among people and with Mr. and Mrs. K. 

But alas! I had been already more than half a year in Mr. 
K.'s house, when the latter received a letter from his son Leon, 
that he was sent under escort to Sosnowiec from Warsaw for having 
taken part in the strikes. He asked his parents to let him avoid, 
if possible, the shame of going through the town. As soon as Mr. 
K. read the letter he asked for my advice. I advised him to ask 
my brother, who would tell him what to do. Mr. K. went to my 
brother who advised him to drive beyond the town and to wait 
there; when his son passed by the communal office, my brother 
would meet him and take him away from the district-constable 
who accompanied him. And so it happened. On the day when 
Leon was to come his brother Jozef went to meet him and Aleksy 
did everything to spare him the shame, so that Leon, without 
stopping in the office, went home at once. He was a big and 
strong man, but already worn and asthmatic, but this did not 
prevent him from drinking vodka and swearing violently. For 
about two weeks he did not interfere with my affairs, so I did not 
mind him at all; but after two weeks he resolved to remain and 
to manage his father's bakery. Then a true hell opened before 
me, but I resolved to stay until the end however bad the condi- 
tions were. Why, he wouldn't kill me! He was the worst in 
the morning, when the cough took him. Then he abused not 
only me, but his own mother. Sometimes I remained without 
breakfast because of him, for when he began to cough he shut 
himself in the bakery and began to make order there, although 
there was nothing to put in order. If he found a bit of dough 
upon the floor or in the flour, he brought it and put it into 
my coffee, for I breakfasted in the room. At such moments he 
seldom called me anything but "whore's son" or something like 
that. I am even ashamed to repeat the names which he gave me. 
If sometimes the rolls were not very nice or a few of them were 
burned, he broke them in crumbs, put them upon a plate, poured 
water upon them and ordered me to eat it. Of course I did not 
eat it, and then he showed me his brutality [beat him probably]. 



1 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 151 

And when sometimes there was more baking and he helped me, 
and he did something wrong himself, he threw it into a basket and 
stamped it thoroughly with his feet. His mother and father 
were quite powerless, for they got it themselves if they made any 
reproach. He had also a few good sides. When he was in a 
good humor he related to me about Warsaw, about bakers, told 
me episodes of his own life; but this happened seldom, for he 
was usually as gloomy as the night. Once when I overslept a 
little, he came to the bakery, took a piece of wood and intended 
to give me a blow, but when he raised it, I jumped from my couch. 
I don't know how it was, but I saw in my sleep what he was doing 
as if I were awake. When I jumped, he said only: "Well, you 
have a chance for I would have measured you well." And so 
it ended. Once when he had abused me badly I went to complain 
to Mr. K., but hcL said that he could not help, only he would hasten 
my emancipation. He ordered me to put money aside, but not 
to tell Leon anything. Neither my home people nor my brother 
[Aleksy] knew what I was doing and how I was living, for Mr. K. 
always asked me not to tell anything, and I listened to him, for 
the old man was very good. As to my brother, I never called 
upon him and we never talked to each other. Although we met 
often upon the street or in the church, we were like strangers. 
But indirectly he was interested much in me and asked other 
people whether I felt well and whether I did not complain. Often 
when Mr. K. sat before his house upon a bench and he passed by, 
he sat down and they talked, sometimes for several hours. 

Once the best young people in Sosnowiec resolved to have a 
subscription dance. At that time such meetings were forbidden 
by the government. If any one wanted to do anything like this 
he had to have permission from the authorities, and the latter 
did not grant it to everybody. Well, some boys came to me and 
invited me also. I asked how large was the contribution, and when 
I learned that it was three roubles it was too much for me. Where 
could I have gotten money? Only for the coals [left from the 
wood with which the oven was heated] and old Mr. K. gave me 
half a rouble every week. Moreover I did not dispose freely of 
myself, for I was still an apprentice. I tried to excuse myself, but 
Mr. Leon began to persuade me also and said that he would work 
instead of me during this night; so what could I do? I promised, 
gave the money and asked whether I had to bring my girl or there 



\ 



152 THE POLISH PEASANT 

would be some there. They said that sixteen girls had accepted 
the invitation and would surely be there. So we decided that the 
dance should be next week. When I went outside with them 
they gave me lo roubles and asked me to try to get a permit for 
this money, giving it either to the mayor or to the constable. I 
promised them that I would bring it on Sunday afternoon, al- 
though I was not sure of succeeding. Next day I wrote to Aleksy, 
asking him to send me a permit and I put the money aside. When 
Aleksy's maid came for bread I gave her the letter. I was not 
sure whether he would send it or not, but if not, then I would go 
to the constable, give him some money, and he would certainly 
give me the permission. But in the afternoon, when I was asleep, 
Mr. Leon roused me saying that the watchman of the communal 
office had some business with me. The watchman gave me an 
envelope in which was the permit, signed by the mayor and con- 
stable. I gave 20 grosz to the watchman and told him to thank 
the secretary kindly. Thus I succeeded well, for I had 10 roubles 
and the permit. I had five roubles of my own put aside — fifteen 
altogether. I lacked only Jen, for I needed twenty-five for the 
emancipation, and I hoped to gather these soon. On Sunday 
afternoon I went to my companions and gave them the permis- 
sion. They were very glad that it cost so little.' 

We began the preparations, and divided the work among 
ourselves. One had to find musicians, another a carriage and 
horses, a third looked after the drinks, a fourth engaged the room, 
and I had the duty of baking the cakes. On Saturday morning 
I had everything ready. With the help of Mr. Leon I even baked 
a tart and many other cakes. After the dance we were to settle 
the account. About two o'clock in the afternoon some boys came 
and took the cakes. The dance was to begin at eight. All the 
boys were to come in long coats. Almost all of them, except 
myself, were sons of parents relatively rich for a town like Sos- 
nowiec, so they had evening suits [Prince Alberts]. But I had 
none, so after much searching among all the tailor shops I found 
a coat in the shop of a Jew, who rented it to me. I bought a 
white necktie and was ready. When it began to get dark I began 
to prepare myself, for the melancholy [sic[\ tunes of music already 

' He did not consider it unfair to keep the money provided he secured the 
permission. Probably his companions expected him to tip the constable and 
keep what was left. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 153 

reached the bakery. But as soon as I began to dress myself Mr. 
Leon came in and said: "You need not dress yourself, for I won't 
let you go." — "Why?" — "Because I don't want to work in- 
stead of you. If you want to go leave another baker in your 
place." — "But where shall I get him?" — "What does it matter 
to me? If you don't find anybody I won't let you go." Saying 
this, Mr. Leon went out, and I undressed and began to work. 
Mrs. K. came in and said: "Don't grieve, Leon will allow you to 
go; he only wants to tease you." I answered nothing, and when 
she went away I began to swear: "The devil brought him here, 
this second master." My companions were already amusing 
themselves, I heard the music, and I had to sit in the bakery. 
One of my companions came and was very astonished on seeing 
that I was not dressed. I told him what was the matter. He 
went to the room where Mr. Leon sat, but returned after a moment, 
saying: "This drunkard won't even hear about letting you go; 
so what will you do?" — "What can I do? I shall sit in the 
bakery, and go there when I finish, toward the morning, and you 
will beg the company to excuse me." — "Well, then, come at 
least in the morning, and after a while I will bring you something 
to drink." But a short time after he left Mr. Leon came smiling 
and said: "Well, )^adek, go to your dance, or else you might 
get sick." At first I would not believe him, but when he repeated 
it for the second time, I began to dress and a quarter after nine 
I was ready. When I was leaving Mr. Leon told me to come back, 
loaned me a gold pin for my necktie, and gave me half a rouble. 
I thanked him, although in my soul I did not bless him for being 
an hour and a half late. 

The dance had begun some time before I arrived. One of 
the boys took me by the hand and introduced me to the girla 
whom I did not know. Then he led me to the table, well spread 
with things to eat and to drink. After a few drinks and bites 
I sat down to observe the company a little. There were nineteen 
boys all dressed in long black coats and white neckties, but there 
were few among them above eighteen, most of them between 
fifteen and eighteen, timid and little acquainted with society. 
There were sixteen girls, and most of them grown up, only five 
podlotki [girls between thirteen and seventeen; literally: young 
wild ducks]. There were only seven Polish girls, the rest daugh- 
ters of Germans who had some factories there. The Poles were 



154 THE POLISH PEASANT 

daughters of richer shop-keepers, two of them of the court secre- 
tary. In my opinion two girls merited more attention. One 
was Miss Klara B., the other Miss Dora P. The first was a beau- 
tiful girl of sixteen, tall, slender, fair, with small lips always ready 
to smile. The second was dark, of middle size, a round face, big 
black eyes and thick black eyebrows; she was always gay and 
full of movement. I fell at once in love with her. She was about 
seventeen. The other girls did not attract my attention. But 
nobody began to dance; all the boys sat upon chairs on one side 
and amused themselves by talking and constantly smoking cigar- 
ettes, and the girls sat on the other side, talking among themselves 
and looking from time to time toward the boys. I did not like 
it much, so I excused myself to the accordeonist, approached my 
companions and tried to persuade them to dance. But every 
one of them found some excuse. One did not dance, another did 
not dare, and nobody had the courage to begin. At last when I 
approached my friend K., I succeeded in persuading him, but on 
the condition that I would help him. So we asked the nearest 
girls, and we began to dance a mazourka. Whenever we ap- 
proached the place where the boys were seated I tried to arouse 
them saying: "Well, gentlemen, help us, for we are tired." After 
a few such exclamations those who knew how to dance rose and 
the dance really began. I did not rest until I had danced with all 
the girls. In my opinion Miss Klara danced the best of all, and 
she was the last with whom I danced. So at the end I sat down 
near her in order to amuse her with talking, but I often sent looks 
toward Miss Dora who sat alone, and our looks often met. But 
I did not dare to go near, because she was younger than Miss 
Klara, for I thought that gossip might result from it — that I 
had fallen in love with her. And so the party went on without 
important incidents until midnight, when there was supper. After 
supper we began to dance again, and then I got better acquainted 
with Miss Dora. . . . When we were tired we went upon the 
street to cool oflF, and whoever wished it went to walk with his 
girl. I went with Miss Dora, for really up to the present I had 
had no opportunity of getting acquainted with so sympathetic 
a girl. It is true that Miss Klara was more beautiful, but too 
mature for me, so older boys courted her and she preferred them. 
When I went out with Miss D. the benches before the house were 
already taken, and as I was rather exhilarated with drink, I had 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 155 

the courage to propose to go further. Without asking permission, 
I took Miss D. by the arm and we went along. For a while we 
were both silent. I was very glad that circumstances permitted 
me to walk with such a rich girl as Miss Dora, for her father had 
his own flour mill in which about 400 men worked. So I did not 
know how to begin my conversation. At last I mustered courage 
enough to give her a compliment. "Do you know what I want 
to say?" — "What then.?" — "That you have pleased me the 
most among all girls." Saying this I kissed her hand, for since 
we left the room I had held her hand in mine, and it was not dif- 
ficult to press it to my lips.' Astonished by my boldness, she 
looked at me and said: "Are you really telling the truth.?" — 
"Certainly. What reason should I have to lie?" — "Well, every- 
body speaks so. In my opinion it is only a compliment. You 
must acknowledge yourself that there are prettier girls, for example, 
Miss Klara." — "It depends for whom. As id me, you alone can 
be considered the prettiest." — "Well, if you say so, I shall tell 
you that you have pleased me also, only you empty a little too 
many glasses, for when we danced the last time your legs got 
tangled. It is not nice, and a man who drinks displeases me 
greatly. If you drink any more I won't dance with you at all. 
And then, I beg you very much, don't drink." — "But shall I 
please you then?" — "It depends upon yourself and your be- 
havior. If you continue in a decent state to the end of the party, 
I can say yes. Only be careful," said Miss Dora, threatening me 
with her finger. "Oh, Miss Dora, I promise to do everything 
that you say. As a proof I give you my word of honor that I 
won't drink any more brandy or beer to the end of the dance." — 
"Oh, no, you may drink beer, for it is not so easy to get drunk with 
beer."* — "I thank you heartily for the permission." And 
again I kissed her hand. 

Talking thus, we came to a bench which stood under a chestnut 
tree. To tell the truth it was I who begged Miss Dora to sit 
down. During the whole time I did not let her hand go, and 
therefore we sat very near each other, talking on. I asked: 

' His boldness is the result of alcohol; in a normal state his sense of 
social hierarchy would be too strong. 

' Note throughout the definite organization of the German girl's attitudes. 
Her common-sense enables her to resent the drinking without impairing the 
relation, and this would have been hardly possible in a Polish girl of this class. 



IS6 THE POLISH PEASANT 

''Why do you so hate men who drink vodka? Did any drunkard 
ever frighten or offend you?" — "Oh, no, but I often hear my father 
speak at home about drunken workmen who spend their weekly 
wages on drinking, although at the home there is a wife and 
children." And here she mentioned some such families. But 
I interrupted this conversation, which was not gay at all, and 
asked her to tell me something more interesting. ''What can 
I tell to you? You probably know more than I do, so say some- 
thing." — "All right," I answered, "tell me, please, how do you 
spend your time at home. For you can be seen so seldom upon 
the street; I have been here more than a year and I have not 
had the pleasure of knowing you. Have you no friends at all?" — 
"I can say that I have none, for I cannot find a good friend." — 
"Evidently you are very particular." — "I am not at all, but 
I have other pleasures which interest me more than walking 
[with friends]." — "And can I know what are these pleasures?" — 
"Why not? I have many books, I have flowers, my room is full 
of flowers and I like them very much. Is it not a pleasure to spend 
your time with things which you like?" — "Yes, I must agree 
that you spend your time pleasantly, for I must confess that I 
like books very much also. But probably you read German 
books?" — "Oh, no, I even know very little German. At home 
we usually speak Polish." — "In that case I would beg you very 
much to lend me some books to read." — "Gladly. Come to 
us, you shall choose those which you like." — "All right, but will 
your father permit me to come to his house?" — "What do you 
think of my parents? Would they be so impolite? Moreover 
my parents allow me to do what I wish. You have the proof; 
they let me come alone to this party tonight." — "Yes, I cannot 
deny it. But your parents are rich, while I — " — "Oh, don't 
say such things. When I invite you you may come boldly to us. 
Your brother calls upon us often and my parents like him very 
much. But you have a pretty sister-in-law. I have noticed 
her, for the^ were both in our house not long ago. You must 
like her very much, she is so good." — "Yes, one ought to love 
one's family," I answered indifferently, for I was occupied with 
thinking what Aleksy's impression would be if we met there. 
But Miss Dora did not allow me to think long about it. She 
insisted that I should tell her positively when I would come. 
"Perhaps," I said, "I shall still not please you. The party is 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 157 

not yet ended, and I have not yet kept my promise. After the 
ball I will tell you, and, if you permit me, I will accompany you 
home." — "All right, I shall he very glad if you accompany me, 
and as to pleasing, you have pleased me already. As to drinking, 
I have your word of honor. So I beg you tell me positively 
whether you will come to us." And seeing that I was reflecting: 
"If you don't answer I shall be angry." — "Why, yes. Miss Dora, 
I will certainly come, only I don't know yet when my time will 
permit me." — "Well, then, I shall tell you. Come certainly 
on Thursday, will you?" — "I will tell you later."— "But I 
want you to say at once." Seeing that it would be difficult to 
find any pretext, I said that I would come, and pleased her very 
much. "So I will wait for you certainly on Thursday at five 
o'clock in the afternoon. All right?" — "I told you already that 
I would come certainly. And I thank you heartily for inviting 
me so much." And I kissed for the third time her hand, which 
I had been holding and always caressing. "And now," she said, 
"let us go to the room, for I hear the music beginning to play." 
I must confess that it was very pleasant to sit in private talk with 
Miss Dora and I thought that I should have an opportunity to 
kiss her, but it did not come to this and I had no courage. So 
I regretted to go back, but what could be done? We rose, I took 
her by the hand and so we returned. [Further dancing. A 
poprawiny (festival to complete a previous festival) is arranged 
for the following day. Accompanies Dora home.] I asked her: 
"Will you come to the poprawiny?*^ — "Yes, I will, but on the 
condition that you come and take me." — "Of course I will come 
if you say so, but not to your home. I shall wait here in the 
chestnut-alley." — "In that case I won't go, and you need not 
trouble yourself with coming." Saying this, she entered into 
the garden which was her father's property and surrounded his 
nice stone house^ It was a very big garden, occupying five morgs 
of space. It was about 150 paces from the street to the house, 
so when Miss Dora entered and left me much troubled in the 
street, I did not know what to do, whether to run after her or to 
go home. But before I decided she was already near her home, 
so I went back much grieved with what had happened, for I could 
almost boast that I had a pretty girl, when suddenly it proved that 
she had only jested with me and nothing more. But then I began 
to reproach myself for letting her beg me so much, while I should 



IS8 THE POLISH PEASANT 

have considered it an honor that such a pretty and rich girl was 
interested in me. But precisely her wealth made me not bold 
enough to go to their house, for what was I in comparison with 
her? Almost nothing. And then I was much afraid that I 
should not know how to behave when I went to their house. If 
I were already a journeyman it would be better, but now? If 
I entered and Miss Dora's parents asked me why I came, what 
should I answer them? I was still too young to have any inten- 
tions [of marriage], so what could associate me with Miss Dora? 
Not love. Well, perhaps friendship. Yes, but only if she were 
a boy.' 

Thinking thus I reached the bakery, but did not go in at once, 
for I felt much out of tune, and I should not have any girl for the 
poprazviny. So I went through the alley, around the market- 
place, upon which life was stirring already, for it was after seven. 
But nothing interested me, I did not see anything, I reflected only 
about what had happened a moment ago. I was already sure 
of winning and then — . She did not even deign to give me her 
hand for goodbye, which I would have kissed indeed. But not 
only her hand — she did not even look at me. I could not bear 
her having acted so lightly with me and having trifled with me. 
No, it could not be, for if she were only jesting why should she 
have gazed at me, gone with me to walk? And then, why should 
she have minded whether I drank or not? Reflecting and con- 
sidering all this, I came to the conclusion that I must have pleased 
her at least a little, for else why should she have invited me so 
insistently to come to her house? Evidently not in order to 
laugh at me and trifle with me. ^nd even if I went to her parents 
and if they asked me why I came, I could answer that I came for 
books, for Miss Dora had promised to lend me some. I thought 
they would not drive me away at once, and even if it were so 
nobody would know anything about it. Well, I would see to- 
morrow what to do. [Decides to go.] I went directly toward 
Miss Dora's house, but when I entered the chestnut-alley, fear 
overcame me again though I did not know what I was afraid of. 

' The Polish guild organization was acquired from the Germans, and 
Dora's parents, who belong to the lower-middle class, show a corresponding 
appreciation of the position of a handworker, as we see later. In this whole 
incident WUdek was never able to define the situation, owing to differences 
in the traditional background of himself and of Dora and her parents. 



LIFE-RECORD' OF AN IMMIGRANT 159 

As I drew nearer to the garden a greater and greater terror came 
into me, but nevertheless I went on. As I approached the gate 
I noticed Miss Dora, who was hiding behind a tree. Then at 
once courage came back to me, I entered rapidly into the garden, 
going straight toward the place where Miss D. was hidden. When 
she noticed that she was discovered she left her hiding place, very 
red, I don't know whether from joy or from shame. But I had 
no time to reflect, for I approached her at once with my hand 
stretched out to greet her. She gave me her hand which I kissed, 
saying: "I beg your pardon very much for having offended you 
this morning; I did not know that you were so easily angered." — 
"Properly speaking, I should beg your pardon, not you mine, 
for havi/ig acted thus with you, but forgive me, for I am such that 
I don't like it when anybody opposes me [or * teases me']. So 
please don't be angry with me." Saying this, she pressed my 
hand tightly and shook it. "And now let us go to my home, 
for I have told my parents already that you would come." — 
"How could you say that I would come? You did not know and 
could not be sure that I would come after the goodbye you gave 
me this morning." — "Oh, don't mention it any more! But 
nevertheless I was sure and I waited here for you. You gave me 
to understand enough today during the party, and I know these 
matters a little." — "I don't deny it," I answered. But here we 
had to interrupt our conversation, for we were near the door. 
Miss D. opened the door and let me in first, then she did the same 
at the door from the vestibule to the room. Her father was not 
there, but her mother sat upon a sofa and her little sister was 
running about the room. Miss Dora took me by the hand and 
led me to her mother, introducing me. I kissed the mother's 
hand. She made me sit near her and began to ask me about the 
details of the dance. I told everything, for she was curious to 
know. Meanwhile, Miss Dora went to dress, and soon came back 
ready to go. Her mother invited me to call on them often and 
to accompany Dora back today. Miss Dora said: "Mr. W. will 
come to us on Thursday. For I won't give you any books today." 
— "I will certainly come," I answered, and we left. 

When we passed through the market-place, people were going 
to vespers and we got more than one curious look, for everybody 
knew me and Miss D. But I don't know what they thought 
about us. . . . We danced until half-past seven without inter- 



i6o THE POLISH PEASANT 

ruption; then the musicians left, and tables were set for supper. 
I told Miss D. that I must go to the bakery and prepare the dough. 
She was much pained, saying: "How is that? You are going to 
work? But you were to accompany me back, you have even 
promised it to my mother." — "I shall be back in half an hour, 
and then I shall have three hours free and you can dispose of me." 
— "But will you surely come? For I won't eat, I will wait for 
you, and then we shall eat together. But hurry, for I shall wait 
impatiently." — "All right, I will hurry." . . . When I returned 
to the ball-room the supper had scarcely begun, and Miss D. 
kept the place at her side for me. We began to eat, telling different 
anecdotes and jokes. After supper we amused ourselves with 
songs and recitals, . . . and after nine I went wit^ Miss Dora 
and we were much bolder toward each other than tne first time. 
On the way Miss D. told me a funny story so that I wplil'ifty sides 
with laughter, and thus amusing ourselves and laughing we reached 
the garden. But Miss Dora did not let my hand go, and led 
me into a side-path where a bench stood in the shadow of trees. 
She had me sit there and sat down herself, saying: "You have 
still more than an hour of time, we shall talk. And first I ask 
you, what do you think about our dance? How did it please 
you?" — "Everything pleased me well enough, but particularly 
you." — "Do you tell the truth, really, Mr. W. For, you know, 
I hate listening to mere complimenting." — "How can you accuse 

me of it? Did I not give you proofs enough that 1 1 " Here 

I stopped, for indeed I had gone a little too far in my conversation. 
"But, please finish what you wished to say." — "All right, if 
you allow me, I will say that I love you. Why, this morning 
I was simply spurned, and nevertheless I came. And now again 
you accuse me of saying mere compliments. Such is my reward 
for having liked you!" — "But, Mr. W., I don't want to o£Fend 
you at all, only I cannot believe much in your having liked me 
so rapidly." — "So you don't believe? Well, this is a proof of 
my love." With these words I kissed her cheek, and it was not 
very difficult, for we sat very near each other so that I felt her 
hair upon my face. When I did this. Miss Dora started from 
her place and wanted to go away, but happily for me I held her 
hand fast and did not let it go, although she really tried to tear 
it away, saying, "Please leave oflF, for you behave impolitely." — 
*Why impolitely? You demanded a proof of the truth of my 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT i6i 

words; I gave it, and you have no reason to be angry." Saying 
this, I drew her firmly to me, so that she sat upon my knees, and 
I embraced her waist and did not let her go. I felt bolder, for 
she did not tear herself away very decidedly, and I said: ^^ Perhaps 
I am impolite because I kissed you only once. I can do it more." 
And I kissed her a few times on her lips, for with one hand I held 
her waist and with the other I drew her head back so that she 
was almost defenseless. Thus I kissed her pretty well, although 
she defended herself a little. When I let her go, she sat down 
near me and began to arrange her hair which I had disturbed. 
In arranging her hair, she did not look at me at all, but turned 
aside pretending to be angry* But I knew very well that she 
was not ^ngry, for if she were, certainly she would not have sat 
down near-me, but would have gone away, as in the morning. . . . 
Sudaenlj^ tl^^ clock upon the church tower struck half-past ten. 
I arose and took Miss D. by hand, saying that it was time for 
me to go. She arose also and said: "Why, you were to take me 
home. You promised my mother." — "I cannot, Miss Dora; 
we have stayed here too long. Did you not hear the clock strike 
half-past ten?" — "Yes, I heard. But how rapidly our time 
has passed here." We took each other by the hand and went in 
the direction of the house. I accompanied her to the door, bade 
her goodbye and asked her to beg her mother's pardon [for not 
entering] and to say that I would come on Thursday. I heard 
the voice of Miss Dora calling: "Only come surely, for I shall 
wait for you on the bench." On the way I had no time to reflect 
about the past moments, but ran straight through the garden to 
the bakery. It lacked five minutes to eleven, which gave me time 
to undress, and begin to work. During the work I had time 
enough to reflect about the evening. I smiled to myself, thinking 
how can girls believe boys so quickly. Even this Miss Dora 
— very rich, and no better than Antosia or Kazia, for we got 
acquainted only yesterday, and today she allowed me to kiss her. 
But it was only the beginning and the first ice broken; in the 
future I expected something better still. During the whole 
night I thought only about her and I wished Thursday to come 
as soon as possible that I might again spend the evening with her 
upon a bench under the shadow of trees. Toward morning I 
got very sleepy and when I went to sleep I slept until six o'clock, 
although Mrs. K. tried to rouse me for dinner. I took my coat 



i62 THE POLISH PEASANT 

back to the tailor, who asked half a rouble for the loan of it. I 
paid him and went to settle the account [with the managers of 
the ball]. The result was that after all the expenses we had still 
3 rb. 75 left, which we spent at once in drinking. Then I went 
to my aunt N., who abused me much for not having tried to have 
her daughters go to the dance. I excused myself as well as I 
could, saying that it did not depend upon me, that I was glad to 
be invited myself. I told the truth, for if it had not been for the 
permission of the authorities they certainly would not have 
invited me. Then I went to settle matters with the Jew from 
whom I got the materials for baking, and from him also I earned 
some money as commission. Thus I had more than seventeen 
roubles altogether. Now I did not know myself what to do with 
this money, whether to buy a suit or to keep it for my emancipa- 
tion. I really needed a suit, for the one I had was already much 
worn and I was ashamed to go in such a suit to Dora's parents. 
But I wished also to get emancipated as soon as possible. There- 
fore I resolved not to buy a suit, but to emancipate myself first. 
Circumstances helped me so that I got both, but I shall write 
about that later. 

I took the money to my aunt, for I was afraid to keep it with 
me. If Leon happened to find it he would think that I had taken 
it from the shop, in which I often sold bread. Sometimes, it is 
true, I took a few grosz for cigarettes, but never more than ten 
or twenty grosz, and I never put these aside, for I succeeded only 
once or twice in a week in taking them. But if Mr. Leon saw 
that I had so much money he would think that all this came from 
the drawer, for he did not know that I had got lo roubles for the 
permission. I preferred that he should know nothing, for he 
could tell it to somebody and cause my shame. So I wrote a 
letter to my parents and asked Mr. K. to add a few words as a 
proof that I wrote the truth. I asked my father in my letter to 
send me money, saying that Mr. K. was ready to emancipate me 
if I only had money. I must mention that it was only my second 
letter to my parents; to Kazia and Antosia I did not write at all.' 

* Typical behavior of the wanderer. The steady inhabitant of an organ- 
ized community takes a new environment and his own situation in this en- 
vironment with reference to the normal and permanent conditions of his life 
and does this as long as he is not completely assimilated. Thus the kind of 
interest that the individual brings to a new environment and the rapidity of 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 163 

On Thursday I prepared the dough two hours earlier than 
usual, dressed myself as well as I could and went to Dora's parents. 
When I came into the garden I saw Miss Dora walking with her 
little sister and holding a book. When she saw me she smiled. 
We shook hands, but I did not dare to kiss her hand, for there was 
a little witness who might tell it to Miss Dora's parents. Miss D. 
took me by the hand and led me directly to the house, saying 
that her mother was a little angry with me for not having accom- 
panied her to the house. Her father rose and shook my hand 
when Dora introduced me. Her mother reproached me for not 
having entered the house on Sunday evening, but I answered 
that it was too late and I had to hurry to my work. After a 
moment of general conversation. Miss Dora invited me to look 
at her flowers and to choose a book. Her little sister remained 
with her parents; she was not very little, she could have been 
perhaps eight years old, so I had to guard myself against her, for 
she was clever enough and could have betrayed us. Miss Dora's 
room was like a library and a flower-shop, for there was a full 
case of books and about thirty flower-pots. She had me sit 
down and gave me a catalogue that I might select a book. I did 
not take much time to select it, for I was in a hurry to flirt. When 
she gave me the book I took^it, caught her other hand and began 
to kiss it. As she did not draw it back I grew bolder, drew her 
to me and kissed her rapidly. She jumped away like a frightened 
deer, reddened deeply, and said: "What are you doing? Some- 
body might see it and what then?" — "O, Miss Dora, nobody 
will see it, for the door is closed. I have longed so much for your 
kiss, and you abuse me." — "Not here, not here! We shall go 
to the garden upon the bench a little later, and there nobody 
will see us." — "But today you must kiss me at least once." — 
"Well, we shall see whether you merit my kiss, for you grow worse 
and worse. Anybody could think that you really care for me." — 
"How so? Do you not believe me. Miss Dora? Believe me, 
please, that you really have stolen too far into my heart." Saying 
this, I took her hand and pressed it again to my lips. But I 
smacked In some way too loud, and I received a new rebuke. 



hit Mfimilation depend essentially on whether he preserves or not, in the 
background of his consciousness, the attitudes of a permanent member of 
his ori^nal community. 



i64 THE POLISH PEASANT 

Miss D. menaced me with her finger, and we went to the room 
where her parents sat. There I remained for an hour, talking 
about different things, and then I left. Dora's parents invited 
me to come often. I promised to come and went with Miss 
Dora and the little sister. But Miss Dora sent her back, and 
we went directly to the bench. It was about eight o'clock. As 
soon as we sat down, Miss Dora began to reproach me for being 
too hot-minded and having too little consideration. ^'You 
ought not to let anybody notice that we know each other inti- 
mately, for if father or mother noticed anything, I should get a 
reprimand and they would forbid your coming to us. I will tell 
you what we shall do. On Sunday and Wednesday you will come 
to us, but then try not to show anything and do not kiss me, even 
my hand, particularly in the presence of Olga. She would at once 
tell everything to mother. And every Thursday and Saturday 
I will wait for you here. If you cannot come, please write a note 
and put it here." She showed me the place. "What, Miss Dora, 
with you only twice a week? It is not enough. And as to your 
parents, what shall I talk to them about? I am too young for a 
serious conversation." — "Yes, but I shall be there and it will 
go on in some way. And besides it cannot be otherwise. And 
for you two evenings a week are quite enough, for if I went outside 
too often I might attract the attention of my parents and I don't 
want them even to suspect anything.' And now tell me whether 
you agree with my conditions or not." — "Well, what can I do? 
Although they are rather hard, I will try to fulfill them. But as 
far as I know, upon every contract a seal must be put. We made 
an agreement, and where is the seal?" — "What seal? I don't 
know about any." — "You don't know? Well, then I will tell 
you, only in your ear, for it is a secret about which I ought not 
to speak aloud." Miss D. naively leaned her head to my lips; 
I took her head with my hand in order to press it firmly but she 
drew her head away, and thus she deceived me a few times. At 
last after she had teased me, I had no more consideration but 
took hold of her head firmly, so that her lips were turned toward 
me and upward, and it was easy for me to put a kiss upon them. 

* Dora's practical sense manifested in a romantic relation reveals two 
sets of attitudes — a practical spirit of organization developed by the familial 
environment, and a romantic attitude based on the sexual impulse and de- 
veloped by books. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 165 

But I did not do it at once for I wanted her to kiss me also. Miss 
Dora did not try to change her position, and it caused me a great 
pleasure also to look into her eyes and I almost devoured her 
with mine. After a few seconds of such intense gazing I was 
unable to hold back any longer, for I felt on fire, my mouth was 
dry, and with all my strength I pressed her lips to mine. Thus 
for a few seconds we stayed without movement, united with our 
lips, and I don't know how long it would have lasted but for the 
clock, which struck nine, roused us and tore us asunder. But 
I did not yet let her go, although she tried slightly to free herself 
from my embrace, but I demanded of her to put a seal voluntarily 
upon my mouth. After a short hesitation she did it, but not so as 
if merely to comply. For when I begged her, we looked at or 
rather devoured one another with our eyes, and every time when 
I said, "Kiss me" she answered only, "Yes, you would like it," 
but at last she tore her hands from mine, embraced my neck and 
pressed upon my lips a seal which I shall never forget. Then 
she fled from the bench like a bird and stood a few paces away, 
putting her dress in order. Then I could see her better. She 
was quite red, her lips were parched by desire, her hair a little 
disordered. Looking at her, I could scarcely keep from catching 
her again and throwing her upon the bench, but I don't know 
whether shame or lack of courage made me stay where I was. 
Miss Dora, probably guessing my interior struggle, said: "Come, 
please, we shall walk a little, for it is too hot here." I must confess 
it was not very hot, for the wind cooled us, but we certainly felt 
as warm as if we were seated near a burning stove. I arose, took 
her by the hand and we went along a footpath. But at last the 
footpath became more and more obstructed by trees, so we returned 
again to the bench. During the walk Miss D. proposed not to 
call each other "Miss" or "Mister," but by name, but only when 
we were alone. 

Then she asked me to copy a poem for her, and finally we 
came back to the bench and sat down again, and talked about 
books until ten. Then, for goodbye, I succeeded in kissing her 
a few times more, and I left, drunk with joy that I had succeeded in 
conquering the heart of Miss D. But alas! I was angry with 
myself for being so young, for if I were at least twenty-two or 
three, I could have a splendid career, for Miss D. would receive 
a nice dowry and I should have money enough to start my own 



i66 THE POLISH PEASANT 

business. While now — what? I could only kiss her, at the 
most foolish with her, and this would be the end, for she evidently 
wouldn't wait for me; she was too rich to sit long at home. Well, 
we shall see what may be done. Today I know only this, that 
I am really loved, for I have had proofs of it. 

And for me Miss Dora was not only a plaything, for when I 
had not seen her for two or three days I longed enormously for 
her. Before I knew her I liked to go often with other boys to 
drink beer and to play billiards; I did not care much for my clothes. 
But now it was different. I was afraid to go to the tavern lest 
she should learn it, and I cared more for my dress; even the work 
came out better from under my hand, and Mr. Leon swore less. . . * 
I went to Miss Dora's parents as we had agreed. We grew more 
and more attached to each other, and every time when I left her 
I was more intoxicated with love, so that I only waited for an 
opportunity to violate her. But even if sometimes I could have 
done it, I always lacked courage. And then I thought that she 
would not allow me to do it, would be very angry, and then, "Good- 
bye, my dear." And it was so nice to be with her! And her 
parents must have liked me also a little, for they invited me more 
and more insistently and often treated me with a good supper. 
[Once while Wladek is at supper here Aleksy and his wife call. 
Wladek is stupefied but behaves "as if nothing had happened." 
Flirtation continues.] 

The time of my emancipation was approaching and I had 
neither letter nor money from my parents, so I did not know what 
to do. Now I could no longer put aside any money, for I often 
bought a necktie, a collar, etc., and my income was very small. 
But I decided to ask Dora for advice. She had always good ad- 
vice, perhaps she would find a way here. According to the con- 
tract three months were still left before the emancipation, but 
Mr. K. had promised me to emancipate me sooner, so I needed 
money sooner. If I had asked Aleksy he would have given it to 
me perhaps, but I did not dare and did not want to ask him. On 
Tuesday I went again to Dora and unbosomed myself to her. 
She did not answer me but told me to wait until Thursday, and 
she would reflect. She told me also that her mother wanted to 
speak to me, and when I asked her what it was about she only 

* Wladek't stay in Soanowiec, under the influence of Dort and her parents, 
marks perhaps his nearest approach to a steady life-organization. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 167 

shrugged her shoulders, laughing at my curiosity. After our usual 
lovemaking I returned almost joyless to the bakery. The next 
day, when I went again to Dora's parents, her mother called me 
to another room. I went, I must confess, with great fear, for 
I thought that she would tell me to bid farewell to their home, 
but my fear changed almost into joy when she informed me that 
next week was Dora's birthday, and that she told me about it 
that I might know and congratulate her, for Dora liked it very 
much. I thanked her and left, accompanied by Dora, who asked 
me at once what her mother told me. "Nothing important; 
I shall tell you later." 

During this night and all the following ones I was occupied 
with thinking what could give her a pleasure. At last I resolved 
to buy her a pot of roses which I saw in the house of certain people 
in a colony not far away from the town. As soon as my plan was 
ripe I went to the colony in order to ask whether they would sell 
me these flowers. To tell the truth, they refused at first and 
would not even listen to my proposal, but when I begged, saying 
that it was for a name-day [not birthday, as the Poles do not 
celebrate birth-days], the woman was moved and agreed to sell 
me the flowers. But I did not take them with me, just paid, 
saying that I would come for them on Sunday after dinner. 



Here I must come back to that Thursday on which Dora was 
to. advise me how to act about the emancipation. At the usual 
hour I dressed and went to my beloved but I did not dare to ask 
her for the second time; I wanted also to convince myself how 
she cared about my affairs, and thereby about myself, and then 
I could as well ask her the next time. But I was not disappointed, 
for when I was leaving she gave me an envelope without any ad- 
dress saying that I should find there the advice. I put the envelope 
into my pocket, for it was too dark to see what was written; only 
when I returned to the bakery, I opened it and found there a small 
letter, and in it a quite new ten-rouble note. When I saw the 
money I simply could not withhold tears that strange people, 
and moreover Germans, were better than my own parents, who 
did not even deign to answer my letter. I was sure that Dora 



,i68 THE POLISH PEASANT 

must have told her parents about me, or rather about my eman- 
cipation. There was not much written upon the card, nothing 
but the following words: 

"My Wladek, I lend you ten roubles which you will give me 
back when you have them; but when — don't think about it 
at all, for it is my own money, and at the present time I don't 
need it much. Your .... Dora." 

After reading this letter I came to the conclusion that Dora's 
parents did not know anything about it and it would not be nice 
to mention it before them. [Pays Mr. K. for his emancipation. 
Buys a new suit. Omits to call on Dora on Sunday because he 
spent the whole day and night composing wishes for her birth- 
day — probably his first literary effort. Sends the wishes with 
the flowers by a messenger who reports that Dora is angry. Now 
deliberates and "breaks his head " whether he shall go on Tuesday.] 
Nevertheless I resolved to go. . . . Dora was angry and abused 
me, but I sat calmly, without speaking, and held her hands in 
mine. When she had finished, I said: "Well, my Dora prepared 
a nice greeting for me. Really if I had known it I should have 
preferred not to come at all, but to sit in the bakery." Then I 
told her what I did on Sunday evening, and pretended that I was 
angry and wanted to go away.' But this did not happen, for 
as soon as I finished my explanation Dora caught me by the neck, 
covering me with warm kisses and thanking me for the flowers 
and verses. I thanked her for the money which she had lent me, 
but as soon as I began to talk about money she closed my mouth 
with her hand and forbade my speaking or thanking. From that 
moment I loved my Dora still more, for her good heart and also 
for loving me so much, and giving me proofs. For instance, she 
related how on Sunday she had waited for me so that her mother 
reprimanded her saying that she was too much my friend. She 
said that but for the fear of being laughed at she would have gone 
herself to see what had happened to me. And her mother also 
repeated more than once: "Why did our Wladzio not come today." 
Dora asked me to send her a letter through some one at her ez- 

' The girl and his desire to see her were really pushed into the background 
by a new interest — the impulse to literary creation. Love is made the theme 
and pretext, and we see in this incident the relation of artistic tendencies 
developed under the influence of love to love itself, and the explanation of 
the reputed insincerity of the love of artists. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 169 

pense the next time I could not come. "For you have no idea 
how anxious I am about you, and I beg you, don't cause me such 
a grief any more, for I shall be seriously angry." Here followed 
long and hearty kisses one after another. After such expressions 
of love I fell into anger, for I was almost sick, while courage and 
boldness did not come. More than once, after an evening spent 
in this way, I promised myself not to go to Dora any more, for 
I was sure that this would not finish in a nice way for us. But 
this was only immediately after such an evening, and the next 
day I wanted to see her again, and thus one week passed after 
another. Today again I fell into anger, when I raised her head 
after perhaps the tenth kiss. I rose, wiping sweat from my brow, 
and we were both silent. At last I began: "Do you know, Dora, 
we must stop these meetings of ours." — "Why?" she asked 
astonished, "are you already tired of me? If I don't please you 
any more, you may go away." — "Why no, you can never dis- 
please me and I can never be tired of you, but reflect yourself that 
sometime this may have bad consequences for us. I confess 
truly that I must control myself with my whole power of will in 
order not to abuse your confidence in me. But some day perhaps 
I shan't hold out any longer and I shall do some folly for which 
you may get angry with me and we shall be obliged to part, and 
to do it in anger." Dora answered laughing: "That is nice. See 
what a man! He is afraid to commit a folly that I may not be 
angry with him! Say rather that you lack courage; then I shall 
sooner believe you. I did not think that you were so temperate." 
Saying this, she turned her head aside and began to laugh iron- 
ically. With this she brought me really to wrath, so I jumped 
toward her, caught her head with both hands and covered her 
with kisses, saying: "Wait, wait, my dear, I will show you my 
courage. Only don't be angry with me later. I know also how 
to be a man sometimes." I must haye pressed her head too tightly, 
for she began to ask me to release her, for I should crush her head. 
But I did not listen, and kissed her lips more and more passion- 
ately. When I was satiated, I went aside a few steps, inhaling 
deep breaths of air, for I was really very tired from those kisses. 
She arose also, complaining that I had spoiled her hair. When 
I had rested a little I asked her how she liked the flowers I had 
sent her. She answered that it was very nice, and thanked me 
again. Suddenly the clock struck ten. I took her home, promis- 



I70 THE POLISH PEASANT 

ing that I would not forgive her for the impertinence of today and 
returned to the bakery. On Wednesday I was again in her 
parents' home. . . . Her mother asked me why I had not come 
on Sunday. I said that I was composing verses for Miss Dora. 
The mother shook her head, which I did not understand, and 
invited me to come next Sunday, when she would arrange a little 
reception on account of her daughter's birth-day. Then I went 
with Dora to her room; she showed me the wishes which she had 
received. To tell the truth, there were not many of them, for 
so rich a girl, and she did not get any gifts except my flowers. I 
don't know what was the reason of her having so few boys, for 
she was very pretty and rich and it was precisely her seventeenth 
birthday. I believe that there were no rich German boys in the 
neighborhood, and then as her mother said she was still almost a 
child and would not be permitted to marry before twenty. There 
were, it is true, a few German boys but they were not great friends 
of hers. I don't know who did not wish it, whether they or Dora, 
but with whomever I spoke about her, everybody called her an 
egotist. For me it was a very favorable circumstance, for I had 
no rival at all. This was the cause of her receiving so few wishes, 
and this did not grieve her or diminish her gaiety. . . . [Receives 
emancipation papers. Shows them to Dora and her parents, 
deposits them with his aunt. Engaged by Mr. K. at i rb. 50 a 
day.] 

Once on Sunday about nine o'clock in the morning a boy 
brought me a letter. As soon as I looked at the cover, I recognized 
Dora's hand-writing. I was astonished, for up to the present I 
had not received any letters from her, and I made various sup- 
positions about its content. But when I tore the envelope I read 
the following words: 

"My dear: This afternoon, about two o'clock, my parents, 
with Olga, are going to your brother. So please come as soon as 
possible. We shall be alone. Only don't be late. I close. 

Your .... Dora." 

I simply jumped with joy that perhaps I should have the 
opportunity to do this folly, as I had told her. I gave ten grosz 
to the boy and said, "All right." I came to Dora's about three. 
She was waiting for me, and said that her parents had left about 
an hour before and would not come back soon. "And I am the 
housewife today." I said, laughing: "What will this young 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 171 

housewife treat me with?" — "Whatever you want." — "Well, 
we shall see/* \fter a while Dora bound my eyes with a hand- 
kerchief and told me to catch her. When I caught her I did the 
same with her, but I am unable to describe what a joy I had then. 
I threw her upon the sofa, I rolled her in all directions and she 
let me do it. When we were tired with running, Dora put sweet 
brandy and zaki^ski upon the table and we drank two glasses each. 
When we finished it was beginning to get dark. We sat down 
very near each other, and as I said, it was rather dark in the room. 
The brandy did its work, for Dora was the first to ask for kisses. 
In the beginning it went rather lamely, but gradually I grew 
feverish and when I bent her head as I liked to do the blood played 
in my veins and my breath grew short. I did not yet dare to 
begin, but when Dora threw her naked arms around my neck — 
for she had short sleeves — I was unable to hold out any longer. 
And when she began to say in her frenzy, "Coward! Coward!" 
I took her nervously around the waist, and threw her upon the 
sofa upon which we were sitting. She tried to rise a few times, 
but it was too late, for at this moment I was no longer master 
of myself. At last she lay quiet, breathing heavily.* 

When we finished it was quite dark in the room and when 
Dora rose she did not go at once to light the lamp but tried to 
put her dress in order. During the whole time we had been silent, 
saying not a word to each other. Now I approached her, took 
her by the hand, kissed it often and said: "Well, you see, Dora, 
I am not a coward. Is it trud?*' — "Not a coward! Why I 
had almost to persuade you to do it. But wait, let me go and 
light a lamp." When she came back she was again fresh and 
rosy as before, and had on a new dress, still more coquettish. 
Then she prepared supper. When we had eaten it, it was about 
nine o'clock, and she did not dzpect her parents until eleven, so 
we had still about two hours of time. After supper we played 
again at catching and when we were warmed Dbra pressed me 
herself to foolish again. After this I sat for about an hour, and 
after a very kind goodbye went to the bakery. 

In this way I succeeded in seducing Dora. I regretted only 
that I was too young, for I was much in love with her. And 

' Dora's behavior is not greatly contrary to the mores of the German 
lower-middle class, while the married woman of this class is usually true to 
her husband. 



172 THE POLISH PEASANT 

today I was still more glad because of what had happened^ for 
I hoped that now it would go more easily. I must confess sin- 
cerely that I never supposed it would come to this between us, 
for when we were in the presence of other persons she was always 
sti£F and showed nothing nor betrayed herself in any way, although 
we had known each other for almost half a year and never omitted 
any appointed evening. But when I remembered that I should 
be obliged to leave her I felt a terrible regret, for should I never 
find another such in the world .^ What was Kazia or Antosia 
in comparison with her? It is true that they also permitted me 
to kiss them, but not with such ardor and not with such fire in 
their eyes as Dora. But it was certain that I must leave her. 
I could not work always for such a small salary, and then I was 
young, I wanted to know the world.' Though I had not told 
her this, I thought often about it myself. The worst was that 
when I should have left Sosnowiec I should forget her and she 
would forget me. This thought gave me no rest and I was curious 
what she would say about it. So I resolved to talk with her 
about it on some occasion. 

Two weeks had passed since that memorable evening and our 
relations had not changed at all, but we had no occasion to repeat 
the foolishing. Only in the third week the opportunity came 
again. On Thursday was the quarterly fair in Sosnowiec and Mr. 
Leon and I had baked an unusual amount of bread and rolls, 
so that much of it was left, and for Friday we were not to bake 
at all. I was very glad and went as usual to the bench, where 
Dora was already waiting for me. She took me by the hand and 
led me straight to the house, saying on the way that her father 
was not at home for he went away on business. When I came 
in her mother told me the same, saying that it was well that I 
came, for it would not be so sad. I began to excuse myself, saying 
that I had a holiday and could amuse myself a little, and there- 
fore I came, for I never entered the house on Thursday. I begged 
her pardon for coming so often. ^*It is all right, it is all right. 
Please sit down and tell what you saw at the fair.'' I began to 
relate as best I could, and so the time passed until supper. After 

* Wladek't definition of the situation here ia assisted by his innate ten* 
dency to change, by the tradition that a journeyman should wander, by hia 
reading and the stories of Mr. Leon, and perhaps even the relation to Dora 
has helped to develop expectations of interesting things in the future. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 173 

supper Dora's mother told us to play at blindman's blufF, for this 
game amused her the most and she always laughed very much. 
The little Olga took part in the game. At ten Dora's mother 
and Olga went to sleep and we remained. Dora darkened the 
lamp and thus in half obscurity we began to flirt. I will not bore 
the reader with more descriptions, enough that we foolished twice. 
And we were no longer ashamed of each other, but we behaved 
quite boldly. Before leaving we promised ourselves to repeat it 
more frequently, only everything depended upon finding a suitable 
place; I was to arrange it. Drunk with joy and love, I came 
back to the bakery. It was already three o'clock in the morning. 

The next day after breakfast I went to search. I went around 
the garden of Dora's father, but could find nothing suitable. The 
fence was down on the side of the field; I went into the garden, 
made a new search there, but in vain. Angry with myself, I 
went along the fence toward the street. Suddenly my eye fell 
upon some object, almost in the corner of the garden. It was 
a booth in which the watchman who guarded the fruits in summer 
had slept. It was still in a very good state. When I entered 
the light did Aot penetrate through any crack. The roof and 
walls were made of reeds. The entrance was open, but not wide. 
Inside was straw, pushed toward the wall with a plank; it had 
been evidently the watchman's bed. I sat down upon the plank 
and tried the straw. It was damp below but dry enough above, 
and it lay about half a yard deep. After reflection I had to 
acknowledge that in the absence of anything better it was a very 
suitable place for our meetings. Then I went in the direction of 
our bench in order to get acquainted with the way, and left the 
garden through the fence, for I feared being seen from the windows 
if I went out through the gate. I was very much pleased with 
my discovery, for I should oftener enjoy this plieasure with Dora 
and without fear. Who would ever guess, indeed, that we were 
in the booth? And then it was far enough from the house. I 
laughed already at the thought how glad my Dora would be when 
I showed her this. 

The next day was Saturday, and in the morning, when Aleksy's 
maid came for bread she brought me a letter from him asking me 
to wait for him tomorrow morning and not to go anywhere, for 
he would come to me. We were all very much astonished, for 
Aleksy had never called on me and we were curious what he would 



174 THE POLISH PEASANT 

say to me. On Sunday at eight Aleksy came while I was at break- 
fast. He greeted everybody without omitting me and asked me 
whether I should like to go to Lubotyfi. "With the greatest 
pleasure/' I said, "but I don't know whether Mr. Leon will per- 
mit me." Aleksy requested him and he did not refuse. Aleksy 
told me to come exactly at eleven, and left. My astonishment 
had no limits. What had happened that he came for me? He 
had already been home more than once and never did this. I 
said to myself that if my sister-in-law went I would not go after 
all. I wrote a letter to Dora saying that I could not come today 
for I was going with Aleksy to my parents. [At home he re- 
proaches his parents for not sending money for his emancipation. 
His mother claims that his father was planning to go with it. 
She gives him ten roubles, which he puts in his pocket, without 
explaining that he is already emancipated. At dinner he shows 
his emancipation papers and returns five roubles to his mother, 
promising to repay the other later. Tells the teacher's family of 
his emancipation, and they rejoice, especially Kazia, but the 
teacher swears and asks him to show the papers. "Perhaps 
you lie about being already emancipated." But when he sees 
the papers he congratulates him and says: '^Try always to be an 
honest man." — At this moment Dora came to my mind, and 
I thought, "What an honest man I am!" Jozef, the teacher's 
son, had returned drunk, and his father would not receive him. 
He is working in a Jewish bakery. On the return they stop at 
Kolo to feed the horses, and Aleksy leaves Wladek, saying he will 
be back in an hour. W. waits two hours and then finds A. in the 
hotel, gambling, drunk and maudlin. Aleksy gives Wladek his 
purse telling him to settle the account, and is carried to the cab. 
On parting Wladek does not give him the purse. Dora and 
Wladek meet and visit the booth.] When we sat down once more 
upon our bench I drew from my pocket two five rouble notes and 
handed them to her, but she pushed my hand away in anger, 
saying that I should pay her back later, when I was richer than 
now. To tell the truth, I did not need it so much now, but as 
she refused to accept it I put it back into my pocket. And then 
with great care, I began to turn the conversation toward this, 
that I must soon leave Sosnowiec and I didn't know where I 
should go. Then Dora said: "Listen, my dear, to what I shall 
say, Tell me truly could you not work always here? My father 



L 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 175 

says that when a stone remains in one place it gets covered with 
moss. You could stay here. You don't need so much money 
for a bakery; you can put it aside slowly and open your own 
bakery. Am I not right?" — "It is true, but think, can a man 
who earns one rouble fifty copeks a week put aside any money? 
And then, I am young, I want to know the world and men and 
to learn better work." — "Oh, you speak as if you felt no regret 
in leaving me. You can cause me only pain by your conversation." 
— "But, dear Dora, this must happen sooner or later, so it is 
better to be prepared for such a thing. But I don't speak about 
separating forever. There exist ink and paper, we shall write 
each other very often, for I shan't be able to forget you unless 
you forget me, and even then I shall think always about you. 
For just think, my dear, is it possible to forget all these moments 
spent with you?" Here Dora interrupted me saying: "Stop, 
for you don't know what pain you cause me." But I noticed 
that she did not say this with her natural voice and when I looked 
into her eyes, I saw tears. "You are crying? But I am still 
with you!" And I began to kiss her tears away. Then she said: 
"How should I not cry, when you talk as if you were going to- 
morrow." And we talked thus until the clock struck ten. Then 
I led her to the door and left, not in a very joyful mood. On the 
way I thought: "Oh, really it would have been better for me and 
for her if we had not known each other at all, for I have begun 
really to love her deeply, every day more deeply, and she wept at 
the mere idea of separation. And when we shall be obliged to 
part really, what will be then? And I must confess that I was 
ready to weep myself. But there was no way at all. If I were 
a few years older, then perhaps some way could be found, while 
now?" Thinking so, I waved my hand and said: "What God 
grants will happen." ' 

* In this opposition between what he conceives — or professes to con- 
ceive — as the interests of his career and his romantic interests, he never for 
a moment contemplates the possibility of giving preference to the latter. A 
man of the upper Polish classes would have done this. In general the relative 
importance given to love as against business grows as we pass from the peasant 
and workman to the aristocracy, though other interests — social, patriotic, 
artistic — may interfere with both love and business. But with Wladek the 
attitude of romantic love is relatively superficial and recent and cannot prevail 
over the traditions of his class, while the business attitude itself cannot become 
a basis of life-organization because of his vagabonding tendency. 



176 THE POLISH PEASANT 

And thus again a few weeks passed without any changes. We 
spent the evenings always in the same way, and nobody suspected 
us. I had still Aleksy's money with me; he did not ask me about 
it and I did not carry it back. Up to the present also he had not 
paid me back the money which I spent with the driver. He 
thought probably that he had lost his own money and feared to 
ask me lest I should betray him. Once the watchman brought 
me a letter from him, asking me to come tomorrow at noon. I 
took his money and went, but to the office not to the apartment. 
In the office I found Aleksy alone. He asked me why I did not 
come to him, whether I was still angry, and where I got money 
for my emancipation. I answered: "I never was angry with you 
for I had no reason, but sister-in-law said, in Wysokie, that I might 
not come to her, so I don't go." — "Whom did she tell? You?" 
— "Not me, but she wrote a letter to father saying that such 
whelps should not come to her." — "Oh, you are silly. Your 
sister-in-law never says anything against you; she even praised 
you much to Mr. and Mrs. P. [Dora's parents] when they were in 
our house. Well, and do you go there still?" — "I do." — "And 
they have probably lent you money. Could you not have come 
to me? I would have given it to you." — "I did not dare to 
come to you, for you always laughed at me and abused me. And 
Mr. and Mrs. P. did not lend me any money. If you don't 
believe it you can ask them." — "Why should I ask? More- 
over I don't care. Now tell me, how much money did you spend 
in Kolo." I said more than three roubles. He gave me five. I 
thanked him and put it into my pocket. I was very astonished 
that he did not mention his money. Then we talked for a while 
longer. Suddenly the maid came in, asking him to come to dinner. 
Aleksy invited me to dine with them. During the dinner he told 
me and my sister-in-law to be reconciled. I rose and kissed her 
hand. She deigned only to say: "Now I am no longer angry 
with you, for you are certainly wiser than before; why, you are 
already a journeyman." But these words, as it seemed to me, 
were not said from the heart, but very coldly. It was evident 
that only Aleksy persuaded her to do it. I answered: "You 
are right, for three years ago I was younger and therefore more 
silly." We sat for an hour and I bade her goodbye. She asked 
me when I would come. I answered: "Next Sunday," and went 
to the office where Aleksy was. He gave me a cigarette and told 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 177 

me to sit down, saying that he had much to do and could not 
talk. I sat for a while, but was soon bored and prepared to leave. 
But in the last moment, as Aleksy mentioned nothing about the 
money, I drew the pocketbook from my pocket and gave it to 
him. Aleksy got very red, opened it, gave me ten roubles and 
hid the rest, saying, "Don't say anything about it to your sister- 
in-law." — "All right," I said, and left. When I was almost out 
of the door, he called, "When will you come?" — "On Sunday." 
— "Come to dinner, we shall expect you." ' 

In this way I was reconciled with my sister-in-law and had 
one more house where I could go. But this did not last long. 
A few weeks passed and my conditions did not change at all — 
except that from time to time I went to Aleksy — when the name- 
day of one of my companions came. It was on a Tuesday. This 
companion invited us all to a separate room in one of the restau- 
rants and gave a good entertainment. I got seriously drunk and 
in that state went to the bakery, forgetting entirely about Dora. 
I overslept and was late with the baking, and in the morning Mr. 
Leon began to abuse and to ourse me. As a journeyman, I was 
already bolder and answered him. At last I said that he might 
look for another man, for I wouldn't work any longer with him, 
and I beg^n to prepare myself for wandering." When Mr. Leon 
saw that I was not joking he sent his mother to my aunt for my 
papers, intending to keep them, that I might be unable to leave. 
But they did not succeed, for my aunt refused to give them my 
papers, saying that I had taken them from her to Aleksy. I 
packed my clothes and took them to my aunt, intending to stay 
there over night and to go the next day to bid Dora farewell. In 
the evening I went to Aleksy and told to him the whole story. 
He asked me where I intended to go now. "To Kolo," I said, 
"perhaps there I shall get work." — "Well, do as you think the 
best," said Aleksy. After supper I went back to my aunt, where 
Mr. Leon's brother Jozef, who had a bakery in the same town, 

' The reconciliation is assisted by his emancipation and the fact that he 
visits Dora's parents. By holding the money and keeping Aleksy in suspense 
he enjoys a certain superiority. He succeeds for a moment in making familial 
prevail over conjugal solidarity. 

' The sudden disintegration of both the sentimental and practical life- 
organization under the influence of an appetite is of course possible ^nly 
because of latent tendencies to change. 



178 THE POLISH PEASANT 

was waiting for me. He began to persuade me to work with him 
and promised to give me two roubles a week. After reflection I 
agreed, but only after Friday. It was too early to go to sleep, 
and I went to walk, for although it was the day when I usually 
went to Dora's parents, I did not go, for I had not yet any ex- 
cuse invented for not having gone yesterday. Though I resolved 
to remain with Mr. Josef I was sure that I should not work with 
him a long time, for I knew well what disorder was there. He had 
no credit with the flour merchants at all, and sooner or later he 
would have to close the bakery. And so it happened. And then, 
I regretted Dora enormously. So I did not know what to do. 
I had nobody to ask for advice, for none of my companions knew 
about my relations with Dora.' In a word, I walked quite stupid 
the whole evening. When I went to sleep it was past midnight. 
At eight I went to the garden and sat upon the bench, but this 
time Dora was not there. I was very grieved, for I thought that 
everything was ended between us. I had smoked some cigarettes, 
nine o'clock had struck long ago, and she did not come. I thought: 
''My waiting is vain, she won't come," and I spoke these words 
aloud. "And if she comes, what then.?" I heard these words 
although not loudly spoken. I turned and saw Dora standing 
in the middle of the path. In a few jumps I was near her, but 
she did not move and did not even stretch her hand out, but put 
both hands behind her and forbade me to touch her, but stood 
like a queen. This took my boldness away. She looked thus 
at me for some time as I stood there ashamed before her, and 
said at last: ''Today is too late for a conversation. Come to- 
morrow at seven to the booth. Will you surely come? For I 
shall wait." — "I will come," I answered. When I said this she 
did not say a word more, turned and went and I stood there help- 
less, as the first time. At last I went back to my aunt. On the 
way I thought: "Well, all is over between us; she certainly told 
me to come tomorrow only in order to abuse me better. But 

' Discretion to be duly appreciated in view of Wladek's vanity and the 
distinction which his relation with Dora gives him. There has been a height- 
ening of his moral level under her influence; his earlier blackmailing tendency 
would not be possible toward her. At the same time this influence must have 
acted upon a favorable attitude. Wladek is half peasant, and the peasant 
is essentially discreet; he has learned to fear rather than to desire the revelation 
bf personal matters. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 179 

nothing can be done. Why this must end one way or another, 
and the sooner the better. In fact I am a little tired with these 
continual and obligatory meetings. And then the pitcher carries 
water until its handle is broken. Even so, God granted us luck that 
we have not been caught up to the present in hot action. It is 
true that the moments spent with Dora will remain always in 
my memory." 

Thinking thus I came to my lodging. It was not yet very late, 
so I sat down and wrote a short letter with the following content: 

"Dear Dora: You have no reason to break out into wrath. 
I could not have done otherwise. On Tuesday was the name- 
day of Mr. B., so he invited us in the evening to him, and I drank 
a little too much. This is the reason why I don't work any more 
with Mr. K. On Wednesday I could not come either for I was 
very grieved. This is my whole fault, which I confess. I give 
you the ten roubles back, for which I thank you heartily. I shall 
never forget your goodness. You spurn me, so I shall go away, 
bearing you always in my memory. 

I remain in despair 

Your Wladek." 

I put the letter with ten roubles into an envelop with the in- 
tention of handing it to her personally. Then I went to sleep. 
The next day I moved to the bakery of Mr. Jozef , which was much 
smaller than that of his parents. The work was the same, only 
less of it. 

In the evening I went to the appointed place. Dora was not 
yet there, so I sat down upon the plank and gave myself up to 
dreaming and preparing how to repel the attack which awaited 
me. I have no idea how long I sat thus, but when I raised my 
head Dora stood before me. I must have been very deep in 
thought, since I did not hear her enter. I arose, but not so rapidly 
as I did usually. She did not stretch her hand to me, so I did 
not do so either, and for a while we stood opposite, measuring 
each dther in silence with our eyes. I was silent, for I did not 
know how to begin, because though we loved each other and 
things had gone so far between us and we were familiar with each 
other, still when she was in anger I felt a coward. After standing 
thus awhile Dora said: "This is the way you behave toward me! 
This is the way you love me! I never expected it from you. 
Oh, evidently you are weary of me." Although these words wefe 



i8o THE POLISH PEASANT 

said in a manner intended to be menacing, still they were said 
half in tears. And I always had a great weakness toward tears 
and could not look at them without being moved. So now I 
approached her, took her by the hand and begun to kiss it and to 
beg her pardon, saying: "Don't be angry with me and don't 
cry, for I am not very guilty." She drew her hand gently away 
and put it to her eyes, saying: "You are bad, you ought not to 
act in this way." Seeing that she talked mildly, I took her around 
the waist, seated her upon the plank, covering her with kisses, 
and disarmed her completely. Almost soothed, she began to 
inquire why I failed to come twice. I felt very much ashamed 
that it happened through liquor, and I did not dare to excuse 
myself, but drew the letter from my pocket and handed it to her, 
saying: "Everything is described there. Read it and you will 
learn everything." She took the letter and made a movement 
as if to tear it. Seeing this I snatched the letter quickly, saying: 
"What do you mean to do?" — "Tear it," she said. "Without 
reading it?" — "Why should I learn from the letter what you 
have written, when you are here and can tell me?" I put the 
letter back into my pocket, for I feared she would tear it and 
destroy the ten roubles with the letter. I sat down by her side 
and began to tell how and what had happened, and why I was 
not there. Finally I added that I wrote this letter and if she 
had acted with me as she did twice before, I would have gone 
and she would have seen me no more. "Have I not the right 
to amuse myself sometimes with my companions or to go to them? 
You don't demand it, but as I see, I cannot do anything without 
your permission." — "This is a nice amusement, to get so drunk 
that you overslept and spoiled your work! But besides this, if 
you intended to go in the evening to a revelry why did you not 
write a letter to me. We have agreed on this and you have 
promised to do it." ... At last we were reconciled completely 
and spent the evening according to our habit. 

And again a few weeks passed without change, and I decided 
really to wander away from Sosnowiec. This work with Mr. 
Jozef did not please me at all. He drank continually, and there 
was no money to buy flour. Once when Mr. J. came from the 
country pretty drunk he entered the bakery and began to abuse 
his wife violently, and she did not fail to call names in turn. Mr. 
J., brought to a still greater wrath, struck his wife rather heavily 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT i8i 

on the cheek and went back to the tavern. I did not like it at 
all, for it was the first time that I saw a man beat his wife, and 
I resolved to work only until the end of my week, to take my 
wages and to wander away.' I told Aleksy and he did not oppose 
it. So I was to go on Friday, for this was the end of my week. 
All this happened on Wednesday, on which, as usual, I went to 
Dora's parents. When I got the opportunity, and Dora was in 
another room, I told them that on Friday I was going to Kolo. 
Mr. and Mrs. R. regretted it, but finally Mr. R. said: "Really 
Mr. W. does well to go into the world to learn better work and 
to get more knowledge." They asked me not to forget them and 
to write often, wherever I was, for they were interested to know 
how I succeeded in the world. I begged them not to tell Miss 
Dora, for I intended to tell her myself incidentally. After a 
moment Dora came in and we turned the conversation to another 
topic. Presently I bade them goodbye more heartily than usually 
and went away. The next day I came again to Dora, who was 
waiting for me already in the booth. But I said nothing about 
leaving the following day, for I did not wish to spoil my own and 
her pleasure the last evening.' This time I gave myself up to 
her totally in order to satisfy her with whatever she wanted from 
me. We came to impossibilities in our foolishing. I did not 
care for anything except for the satisfaction of all the desires of 
the flesh. Therefore I stayed later than usual, until eleven o'clock. 
Toward the end I wanted again to give her the money back, but 
she refused positively to accept it. Accompanied and kissed by 
Dora, whose hair and whole dress were in disorder, I left forever 
the garden and the family R., taking with me the remembrance 
of many evenings spent so delightfully. And thus ended my 
romance with Miss Dora, in the eighteenth year of my life. During 
the night I wrote her a long farewell letter, for I had not betrayed 
with a single word that I was leaving her. In the morning I took 
the letter to the post-oflSce, received my weekly pay and, withheld 
by nobody, left Sosnowiec, having in my pocket, besides these 
ten roubles of Dora, more than fourteen of my own. 

* This incident would not have been sufficient to compel him to leave if 
he had not been prepared to wander. It is a mere pretext. 

' There was no altruism in his plan; he was unable to tell her and face 
the painful response. Given the desire to wander on the one hand and Dora's 
strength of character on the other, running away is for him the only solution. 



i82 THE POLISH PEASANT 

I came to Kolo afcx)t. There I went to the elder master, left 
my valise and papers, and he gave me the ''mark." ' Here I must 
say a few words about the customs of the bakers. Well, when a 
journeyman came to a town in which there was an elder master, 
he was obliged to leave his papers with him, and the master gave 
him a mark; t. ^., a brass imitation of an obwarzanek [a particular 
kind of doughnut]. With this kind of mark the journeyman 
had the right to go among all the bakers in search of work and 
the right to ask the masters for assistance, and almost everyone 
gave him something. The obligation was to give at least six 
grosz. When the journeyman happened to call during the dinner 
or some other meal, he was invited to the table, but only if he 
was decently dressed, and not many of such came. But the 
master gave all this only if the journeyman showed the mark, 
and it was the custom only where there was an elder master. If 
there was none the journeyman must show his papers to every 
master. He had to enter without any stick or cane; if he had 
one he must leave it outside. When he came into the shop he 
must say: *'A wandering journeyman-baker," and show his 
papers or mark. If there was work, the master kept him; if 
not, he gave the giszynk [Geschenk], as the bakers call the gift 
which the masters give. I did the same. I took the mark and 
went among all the bakers, but there was no work with any of 
them, and I did not go to the Jews. When I returned to the elder 
master in order to give him back the mark, I met there three old 
drunkards, bakers who stood there before the shop. Into such 
a town some wandering journeyman came almost every day and 
they, these drunkards, waited for him, and he must spend on 
drinking with them whatever he had collected, for they always 
found some way to draw him into the tavern. And if one had 
money he ought not to betray himself, for then they did not 
spare their own money in order to get him drunk and to rob him. 
And if he said anything they beat him. I knew all this from the 
stories of other journeymen. There was no larger town without a 
few such ** smyruses^* [from German "schmieren," slang for getting 
drunk]. The same happened to me except that I was not much 

< The Polish trade-corporations are of German origin, as in the middle 
ages ( 1 2th- 1 5th centuries) the town population was mainly German. The 
population has been long Polonized but the customs and the words which 
designate them are still German, though corrupted. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 183 

more stupid than they were old. They never addressed a young 
fellow otherwise than, "Thou Siejksa** And when they shook 
hands with him they talked also in the baker's way. The one 
who stretched the hand first said, "CAttJiV," and the other who 
accepted it must answer, ^^Nemsic" and when they happened to 
meet one who did not know how to answer, then goodbye. He 
must spend all his money on drink and if he had none, then any- 
thing what he owned — apron, shirt or any other clothing. And 
it was even lucky for such a wandering journeyman if he was not 
beaten. When they wanted to know where the journeyman was 
emancipated, they asked: "What lancman [Landsmann]?" And 
the journeyman answered, ^^Kalistet^'* ^^Koniner^^ ^^Turkier^^ 
etc., according to the town where he had been emancipated. 
I was a Turkier, for I had been emancipated in Turek. 

Considering all this, it was not a great pleasure to meet such 
gentlemen, and every journeyman tried to avoid it as far as 
possible. It was easy to know them from far away from their 
clothes, very worn and covered with flour, and from their shoes, 
tied with strings from flour sacks. Sometimes such gentlemen 
met their match and got a beating, but they used to avoid such 
occasions and waited for young and inexperienced "siejkcs."' 

I was just about to enter the shop [of the elder master] and to 
give my mark back, when they crossed my way and began to greet 
me in the bakers' manner and to inquire what lancman I was and 
whence I came, whether I had visited all the bakers already and 
whether I found work. I answered all their questions, making 
bold and pretending that I was not afraid. Then I started to 
go away, but one of them held me by my sleeve and asked whether 
I wanted to get work. I stopped at these words and said: "I 
want it. Where, with whom and at what salary?" — "Two and 
a half roubles a week, with a Jew, there near the bridge. Come, 

' There is a professional and socially regulated beggary among peasants, 
and occasionally a peasant loses his fortune in drinking, but these smyrusis 
are a unique trade-product. The handworker-journeyman has one funda- 
mental aim — to start a business of his own. This and the influence of a 
normal social environment are usually sufficient to keep him out of pauperism. 
But if he does not succeed in establishing a shop and if for some reason he 
does not stay in one place long enough to become incorporated in the social 
life of this place, then both factors — the idea of an independent business and 
the regard for public opinion — lose their influence, and the wandering life, 
which is normally a provisional stage, becomes a definite form of existence. 



i84 THE POLISH PEASANT 

he will keep you." To tell the truth, I did not wish to begin my 
work with a Jew, but I did not wish to wander further either. 
I thought: "It would be well to work at least a few weeks," and 
I went with them. They waited before the shop and I went in. 
The Jew took me. Then I went to take the papers to the boss, 
whoever he was, and the boss gave half a rouble. My companions 
asked whether I was received. I said yes, and went for my papers, 
still in their company. I took my valise also to the Jew. He 
gave me half a rouble, but my companions did not leave me even 
for a moipent. Then, when my matters were settled, they asked 
me to treat them. I promised them to do so. They began to 
lead me toward their usual tavern, where they were well known, 
but I opposed going there decidedly and entered the first best. 
I tried to drink as little as possible for I knew well what awaited 
me if I got drunk. . . . Finally I spent all the money which I 
had collected in Kolo and received from the Jew, and my com- 
panions got nicely drunk, for they ate very little, only drank. 
They demanded still more, but I gave nothing. I was not much 
afraid of them in this tavern, for had they made a riot they would 
have been thrown out. After the feast I went to the bakery and 
slept, for it was too early to work. 

I won*t describe what I did and how I worked. I mention 
only that there was much work, and on Saturday we never baked 
anything. There were three journeymen, two Poles and one Jew. 
I got acquainted with nobody worth describing, only from time 
to time I went to the tavern with other bakers, and then little 
was left of my wages. In a word I had bad companions and 
became more and more like them. I learned to drink vodka 
well enough, my clothes were already much worn, but I had no 
money put aside to buy new ones. The 24 roubles were still 
untouched and well hidden. It is true that I wanted more than 
once to break with my companions, but I could not, for they came 
to the bakery and began their drinking there, and after a short 
opposition I joined them. I wrote no letters to Sosnowiec or to 
my parents. In such an environment and with companions like 
the three which I described I worked for twelve weeks. I must 
add that during these twelve weeks I was not even once in the 
church, for every. Sunday the work, after the Jewish Sabbath, 
lasted till one o'clock in the afternoon.' 

' The change of social environment manifests itself immediately in a 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 185 

At last I got tired of such a mean life, for I began to be like 
a brute. So I tried to find some other work, and my luck favored 
me, for at the same time a journeyman left the bakery of Mr. K. 
and the latter received me, paying me the same salary as the Jew. 
This bakery was in a suburb. . . . Here I felt better at once 
and I was di£Ferent, for no journeyman was allowed to come in 
and to incite those who worked in Mr. K.'s bakery to drink. 
Therefore I very soon put some money aside and bought clothes. 
I did not leave any more money in taverns, for I seldom went out. 
My companions slowly dropped away from me, and at last Mr. 
and Mrs. K. liked me for not keeping company with drunkards, 
as they said.' 

Only then I remembered Sosnowiec and Miss Dora, and wrote 
a long letter to her, and another to her parents. I put into her 
letter the 10 roubles, for I had only trouble with them, fearing to 
lose them. I begged Miss Dora's pardon very earnestly for 
having acted so impolitely and not having told her that I was 
going away, but I did not want to grieve her with such news. I 



total modification of all the acquired habits; regular work, thrift, romantic 
love, familial attitudes, temperance, religion, in a word, life-organization in 
all lines is dropped at once'.' The cause of this change is twofold: (i) There 
was a tendency to reject, at least temporarily, the preceding organization of 
life, as shown in his abandonment of the business activity and the romantic 
relation simultaneously. (2) All the fields of organized activity constitute 
for the consciousness of Wladek a complex whole, being, all of them, rooted 
objectively in a social environment of a certain type and based subjectively ^ 
on the social instinct. And it is evident that his strong social instinct yields 
to the example of his environment, that exactly the same psychological back- 
ground leads him to a Philistine life-organization or to a Bohemian dissolution, 
according to the milieu in which he finds himself. He can select his milieu, 
but he is less able to do this than others whose desire for social response is 
less strong; he changes only when the desire for stability or the desire for 
new experience grows so strong as to permit him to overcome the attraction 
of the given milieu sufficiently to move into another milieu. Thus the peri- 
odical changes in Wladek's life — typical for innumerable half-vagabonds 
in all classes and all societies — are the result of the periodicity of the desires 
for stability and for new experience. All the individual has to do is to search 
for a milieu adapted to his desire and to subject himself passively to its or- 
ganizing or disorganizing influences. 

' The K.S cared, according to the guild tradition, for the morals of their 
journeymen. The Jew did not, because he had not the guild tradition, because 
of the race-antagonism, and because his tutelage would not have been accepted. 



i86 THE POLISH PEASANT 

described also how I was succeeding, but did not mention that I 
had worked with a Jew and had been to taverns. 

Meanwhile I got acquainted with a baker-journeyman, in 
my opinion a nice fellow, and I kept company with' him. He was 
about three years older than I, and he had more acquaintances, 
so thanks to him I began to spend my time a little more merrily 
and decently, in a better society. I resolved to match him with 
Miss Pelagia D., and I tried to persuade him to go with me to 
Lubotyfi. More than once we made excursions on boats to the 
ruins of a castle, about two versts away from the town, and a few 
girls went with us. But I did not try to get more nearly acquainted 
with any of them, for I remembered too distinctly the impressions 
and the moments with Dora.' Soon I received a letter from her 
parents and another from herself. In her letter there were many 
reproaches and much abuse. She called me a man without a 
heart, and then again a man with a heart of stone, that I could 
have acted thus, as if with a toy with which I had played enough 
and threw it away as useless. And many other reproaches were 
included in this letter. She sent me the ten roubles back. I 
resolved not to send them to her any more but to give them to 
my parents. 

[Visited by his father, to whom he gives the ten roubles. Visits 
his own family (which had moved to Bogusiawice) with his friend 
L., whom he had hoped to match with Pelagia, taking brandy and 
gifts, and ''nice sticks in our hands, for I in particular was very 
fond of sticks and changed them often for better ones." "Kazia 
was like Kazia. She thought really that I was deeply in love 
with her, and she wanted to be always where I was and to attract 
my attention." Pelagia had aspired to marry into the small 
trading or manor-official class, but confessed to the sister of Wladek 
that she would now "marry for a piece of bread." She does not 
please the friend of Wladek. The master falls sick and Wiadek 
has charge of the business.] But by no means could I find any 
girl for myself, although every boy among my acquaintances had 
one. I did not run after girls, and no girl pleased me. I tried 
always to be polite and kind when I met one, but nothing more. 

' This is the only point in his sexual life where the remembrance of the 
past proves stronger than the present impressions. His relation with Dora 
seems to have been the only real love-relation of his life, if we define love by 
ezclusiveness of sentiment with regard to one person of the other sex. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 187 

And when sometimes there was a discussion about women I knew 
no pity and criticized them to the utmost degree, and therefore 
I was not liked by girls. But I did not try to acquire their friend- 
ship, for I had a something in me which made me aspire higher, 
and I could not meet such a girl as I wished.* 

Once all the girls with whom I was acquainted laughed much 
at me. It was in the summer, when I had to take the horse to the 
meadow. For although there was now a boy and Mr. K. was in 
a better health, I did not want to resign the pleasure of riding. 
The night had been warm and I had worked in the bakery in only 
a shirt and an apron, without a coat. In the morning when the 
boy had delivered the bread and prepared to take the horse out, 
I wished to show Mr. K. how well I knew how to ride. I caught 
the horse by the mane, intending to jump upon his back, but I 
did not succeed; my apron remained upon his back and I half 
hung, half lay, and could not get up. The horse, as if in malice, 
galloped full speed through the market-place and I rode helpless 
and ashamed, for I had to cling to him with all my strength. 
Many people saw me riding thus and told others, and soon the 
whole town knew it. After that, in the case of any dispute, they 
always reminded me of it, saying that I knew this or that as well 
as riding. I had nothing to say in excuse, so I had to yield, but 
I never again wanted to take the horse out.* 

A few months later — it was already winter — my master 
fell sick and did not rise again. During his sickness I had again 

* Deterred by the memory of Dora, made more fastidious by association 
with a girl of her class, and unwilling to seek response by normal association, 
he yet secures recognition by posing as a woman-hater. 

* We have seen above (p. 184 note) that the whole life-organization as 
conditioned by the social milieu has in the eyes of the individual an indis* 
soluble unity, so that the rejection of a single value implies the rejection of all 
of them. We have here the complemenury fact that both for social opinion 
and for the individual himself all the lines of personal activity constitute a 
single whole; no distinction is made between particular fields of this activity, 
so that success or unsuccess in one field influences the standing of the whole 
personality. The frequent ridiculous inferences about an individual drawn 
from some particular and trifling manifestation of his activity, or even from 
spme external peculiarity, can be explained by this unity of the social per- 
sonality (</. the incident of Aleksy leading the blind beggar). For this reason 
also the community never forgets a false step of a member, and, for example, 
a short term in prison, deserved or undeserved, brands the man once and 
forever. 



i88 THE POLISH PEASANT 

to manage the bakery. Once I went out to the town, and whom 
did I meet ? Mr. Jozef K., from Sosnowiec, with whom I worked for 
some time. But how he looked! O my God! The cold was 
great and he was without an overcoat, half-frozen, in torn shoes. 
When he saw me he ran toward me with outstretched hands. I 
was really astonished at seeing him. "What are you doing here, 
in such a condition?" Instead of answering he showed me the 
mark of the elder master. I guessed everything, but I was very 
curious as to what he would tell me. It was too cold to talk upon 
the street, so I invited hitn to a tavern to drink a glass. When we 
had drunk more than three each, I asked him what he had done 
with his bakery. And he began to relate: "What do you think, 
Wladek? Is it possible to run a business with such a wife? When 
I went to the country with bread she invited her cronies and 
treated them with the best she had while the maid was selling in the 
shop and putting the money into her own pocket. And thus I 
had to fail. But I have driven this cholera away from me." — 
"How is that? Of whom are you speaking?" — "Do you not 
hear? Of this whore of mine." — "No, I don't know of whom 
you are speaking. Speak plainly." — "Well, if you don't 
know, I shall tell you plainly. I speak of my wife whom I 
have driven away from me." — "And your little daughter? 
Where is she?" — "She took her and went to her father." — 
"How could you do this — drive away such a pretty wife!" For 
indeed, he had a rather handsome wife and a girl three years old. 
"I don't care now for her at all. I am better oflF now." I looked 
at him, where this "better" condition was clearly written, but 
I was very indignant with him for he cursed and accused his wife, 
while I knew very well that he was the cause of his own failure. 
I finished treating him and we went out upon the street. Mr. 
Jozef asked me to give him a few grosz. I had still forty copecks 
with me which I gave him and I went my own way with the in- 
tention of not meeting him any more, for I was not pleased with 
him* Two days later I was sleeping when some one knocked at 
the door. When I opened he began to beg me to lend him three 
roubles, but I refused to hear of any lending. But seeing that 
I should not get rid of him, I told him to wait on the street and 
I would come out at once. When he left I closed the door and 
went to sleep again. If he had needed money for living or for 
anything else I would have given it certainly, but I knew well 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 189 

that it was for liquor. He stood for a while upon the street, but 
then began to knock again and to beg as well as he could, but I 
was unmoved. At last he said that he was hungry and asked me 
for a few grosz for breakfast. I could not listen, so I opened the 
door and gave him half a rouble more but forbade him to come 
any more. This happened later a few times, but I refused to 
let him in at all. Seeing at last that he could get nothing more, 
he went away.' 

My friend wandered out of Kolo, so I was left alone. I worked 
for some weeks longer but in early spring my master died and I 
had nothing to do, for Mrs. K. closed the bakery. Easter was 
not far off so I resolved to rest at my parents' home and after 
Easter to go to work again. And so I did. I had worked in 
Kolo forty-four weeks, twelve with the Jew and thirty-two with 
Mr. K., but when I left Kolo I had only eighteen roubles. I gave 
my father half of this money and kept the rest. About this time, 
near Easter, I was most of the time with Kazia. Once when we 
were walking together Kazia made her third declaration to me, 
saying: "Mr. Wladek ' you are already a journeyman, nobody 
could hinder you from marrying if you wished." — "All right, 
Miss Kazia," I answered, "but what shall we do, since I have 
nothing except this stick here and these gloves? What support 
could I give to my future wife?" — "Oh, Mr. W., why do you fear 
it? If we marry, we can work together for our bread." — "No, 
Miss Kazia. Later on, when I am free from military service, or 
when I shall have served my time." — "Oh, then you won't 

' While alcoholism acts by destroying the life organization, this destruction 
cannot be complete as long as the individual preserves his social ties — family, 
acquaintance-milieu, business relations — and in the case of a master of handi- 
craft married and owning a shop these ties are preserved in a sense automati- 
cally. Even if the man is a drunkard and keeps company mainly with other 
drunkards he can hardly escape the influence of the other organized social 
sphere to which he originally belongs. Therefore the master can become com- 
pletely pauperized only if, like Jozef, he breaks all his familial and social ties. 
And in this case also he probably falls, like Lucifer, never to rise. 

'This ceremonious use of "Mr." and "Miss" seems ridiculous in persons 
who have known each other from childhood, but these forms have a social 
significance. Now that they are marriageable, to address each other by name 
would mean either too little or too much — that they were going to marry 
very soon or that they considered each other as if belonging already to the 
same family, being as near as a brother and sister, and then psychologically 
marriage would be excluded. 



li 



190 THE POLISH PEASANT 

take me, for 3rou will search for a rich wife." — But, Miss Kazia, 
if we are destined for each other, we shall many sooner or later." 
— ''I don't believe in destiny/' answered Kazia, and began to 
annoy me again about giving her my word; then she would wait 
for me. But I did not yet dream of marrying, and less of giving 
my word to Razia, and I was stubborn and tried to excuse myself 
and to dissuade her, so that again she got no word from me.' 



[For Easter Stach and Marya come, and a Mr. Jankowski is 
also visiting his brother, the blacksmith, and paying attention to 
Pelagia, who does not look favorably upon him because he is 
small.] We passed the first day at home and it was gay. The 
second day was dyngus day. It was still dark when Mr. Jan- 
kowski came to me, and we both went about the village, entering 
wherever we were permitted to enter and pouring water upon the 
girls. Finally we resolved to go to the manor, for there were 
also a few servant girls there. We were already rather well drunk, 
being invited to drink in every house. When we entered the 
manor-house, the lord noticed us, met us in the vestibule and 
asked what we wanted. He was already an old man, above eighty. 
When we told him, he said: "All right, wait a little." Then he 
rang for the butler, whom I knew very well since we were boys, 
although he was somewhat older than I. The lord ordered him to 
bring a bucket of water, two cups and to close the door well from 
the outside. Then he sent him to call the maids. There were 
three of them, two lady's maids and one seamstress. When they 
came in the lord closed the door behind them and put the key 
into his pocket; then he told us to leave our hiding place. We 
began to pour water upon them without mercy, and the lord 
applauded saying, "That is good, that is good!" When the 

'Traditionally Wladek's failure to manifest to Kazia that he does not 
intend to marry her is correct. He simply remained in the class of suitort 
from whom she might normally select (see introduction to Vol. I). He still 
considered her as an eventual possible match and in fact thought later teri* 
ously of marrying her. He knows that her attitude is not the traditional 
one, but a break with her would produce a painful reaction not only in Kazia 
herself but in her family and all the acquaintances. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 191 

bucket was empty the lord opened the door, laughing, let them 
go, and said to us, '^Now come and drink a glass." He led us to 
a room where the butler brought enough of everything. He drank 
a glass with us and left, saying, '^Now amuse yourselves, and 
you (to the butj!cr) with them." We began to empty glasses and 
to eat wakiiskiy when the lady entered with her daughter, the 
countess from Krzykosy, who had been divorced for a year. We 
rose when, they entered, reeling a little, but they told us to sit 
down. The countess asked: "Which one of you is Wiszniewski?" 
I answered that I was. "Well, then please come some day in 
the week, will you?" — "All right, my lady the countess," I 
answered, and the ladies went away. We drank the rest and 
left, going straight home and holding each other by the arm, ex- 
tremely drunk. But it was not the end, for when we passed 
near the door of the former maid of my parents, Marysia, she 
was standing before the house and, seeing us, she fled to her room. 
But we followed her and poured water upon her. She treated us 
with a red brandy, of which we drank a big glass each. This 
brandy gave us the finishing blow, for it was very strong and bad, 
colored with I don't know what. 

I had forgotten about the countess, but once Mr. Jankowski 
reminded me of it. So I dressed myself as well as I could and 
went. It was on Thursday. I entered first the butler's room. 
We talked for a while and then he went to announce me. He 
soon came back and led me through a series of rooms to a closed 
door; there he asked me to wait, and entered. I did not Wait 
long, for the door opened, he beckoned me to come in, and went 
away. I looked around the drawing-room and saw the countess 
lying upon a reclining chair, and reading a book; her parents 
sat at the table. I stood near the door without knowing what 
I ought to do, and I don't know how long I should have stood there 
if the countess had not helped me by saying, "Please come nearer." 
When I approached, she showed me a chair, telling me to sit down. 
I sat down, but timidly. On entering I did not kiss her hand or 
those of her parents, only bowed. The countess was evidently 
not at all ashamed before me, for although her calves were quite 
visible she did not try to cover them with her dress. As soon as 
I sat down I asked: "What can I do for your pleasure, my lady 
the countess?" But she was as if she had not heard my words, 
for she did not move at all. I must confess that it was an awful 



192 THE POLISH PEASANT 

torture for me to be thus bound up, not daring eyen to cough. 
I sat thus for perhaps a few minutes or less, when at last the 
countess put the book she was reading aside and deigned to speak: 
"Is it your father who knows so well how to tin pans over? For 
the priest told me that your father tinned his pans." — "Yes," I 
answered, "my father has tinned the priest's pans for some years." 
— "And we did not know it but sent ours to the town. So please 
tell your father to come and we shall agree as to th« price." — 
"All right," I answered, I will tell my father," and I rose to leave, 
for I was awfully annoyed by her stiffness and disdainful manners 
toward me. But with a gesture and word she ordered me to sit 
down and I sat down again, although not with joy. I won't 
repeat here all the conversation, for it was very tedious. She 
inquired how many children there were of us, what were the occu- 
pations of each, where each of us lived, and so on, and this con- 
versation lasted for almost an hour. Toward the end she asked 
me whether I liked to read books. When I answered "Yes," 
she said that she would lend me books if I wished. And she said 
something to her parents in French which I did not understand. 
Then she said to me: "So you will come for the books?" — "I 
will if my lady the countess deigns to lend me some." Then she 
took her book again and I rose, bowed and left. Only behind the 
door I breathed freely and was glad that my tortures were ended. 
I found a corridor along which I went, but at the end of it I did 
not know where to turn. Happily I met a lady's maid who led 
me out. I sat for a while with butler and left the palace, saying 
to myself that I would never more pay any visit to the countess. 
And it seemed to me that the countess had offended me by saying 
to me "you" ["wy," intermediary form between "thou" and 
"sir," used by the upper classes when speaking to peasants who 
are not servants], I should have preferred it if she had called 
me "thou" [because this might have been on account of his age, 
not of his social position. Of course he preferred to be addressed 
by "/>a«" ("sir")]. But I had shown her also what I was capable 
of, for I did not kiss her hand, while the nobility in the country 
is used to it. I told my father to go there, saying that he would 
earn some money, and so it was.' 

* The story shows the complete estrangement of the younger generation 
of nobility and the lower class. The old attitudes and common interests have 
disappeared and have not been replaced by new, so neither side knows how 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 193 

[Decides to go to Lodz.] Three days later I was there, without 
important incidents. There I found the bakers' hostelry, but 
they refused to admit me for I did not know how to "wander in." 
At last I remembered a baker from our country whom I knew 
and I had him called. When he came out I asked him what I 
was to do. "You must 'wander in'." — "But I don't know how 
to do it." — "Well, then you must give a rouble for treating 
and somebody else will wander in instead of you." I had heard 
more than once about this custom, but I had never had the oppor- 
tunity of learning how to "wander in." So I gave my acquaint- 
ance one rouble asking him to accomplish it for me, but he re- 
fused to accept the money saying, "You will do the treating your- 
self." Then he knocked at the door, as was the custom. They 
called in German ^^^Rein^^^ and we went in. Then he said some- 
thing rather long near the door, and then everybody approached 
and gave me his hand, saying in the bakers' way, "CAwjiV," to 
which I had to answer, "AT^wjiV." Then my companion led me 
to the "hostel-father," who took my papers, inscribed my name 
in a book and said that I had the right to eat and sleep for three 
days without paying, and during this time he would try to get 
work for me. If there was no work, and I had money to pay for 
food, I might remain as long as I wished for I didn't need to pay 
for sleeping there. 

Then we came back to the main room, where all the bakers 
stayed. Now some fifteen old smyruses surrounded me, asking 
me to treat them. I offered them one rouble, but they did not 
take it, telling me to go with them. I looked at my companion 
appealingly but he pretended not to see it. I could do nothing 



to behave. A peasant and a noble of the old type understand each other 
perfectly, just as an old southern white and an old-time negro understand each 
other perfectly. Even in this case the father of the countess had established 
at once a cordial relation between himself and the young men without impair- 
ing the social distinction. The daughter evidently wanted to show some in- 
terest in the inhabitants of the village — perhaps under the influeifce of the 
movement for enlightenment — but did not know how to start. A peasant 
or a manor-servant with the old traditions would have helped her out uncon- 
sciously, but Wladek has lost all the traditional attitudes except the recognition 
of the class hierarchy, which in the absence of common interests is exclusively 
a dividing factor. The situation is quite different when the nobility co- 
operates with the peasants and leads them in social reorganization. We shall 
see in Volume IV the attitudes then developed. 



194 THE POLISH PEASANT 

but go, and these fifteen ragamuffins with me. For though they 
were my trade companions their clothes were torn, worn, dirty; 
some of them had no shirts, others no shoes. It was not far to 
the tavern and, as they said, it was their tavern, whose proprietor 
knew the bakers and their customs well. I did not even need to 
ask what I was to order, for he put upon the table exactly a rouble's 
worth of food and drink. But as soon as we sat down bakers 
came in through the front and back doors whom I had had the 
pleasure of seeing in the hostelry. There were more than thirty 
of them altogether. How should I alone treat so many hungry 
and thirsty men? Not one rouble but fifteen would be scarcely 
enough. And every one of them came boldly to the table and 
took a lakqska. Before I had time to look there was nothing 
more upon the table and the bottles were empty. I rose and 
wanted to leave, but they held me by force and told me to buy 
more, for not all of them had got their glass. I excused myself 
saying that I had no more money. Then they wanted to search 
me. Finally I paid two roubles more, and only five roubles were 
left, for I had them concealed elsewhere, while three were in the 
pocket-book. Only when they saw that my pocket-book was 
empty they let me go, calling me "Whore's son" and so on. And 
what for? Only because I had no more money. 

I left, very bitter, and went to walk a little. I wept, thinking 
that I should become like them. For what more had I to expect, 
since I had no money to establish my own business? I must 
always work as a journeyman and moreover with such companions. 
For how was it now? There were more than eighty men in the 
hostelry without work, living only from those who permitted 
themselves to be exploited. So I reflected much what I should 
do, remain or wander further. Reflecting thus, I went to sleep 
in the hostelry. They had given me a dirty straw mattress and 
nothing more, neither cover nor pillow. The next morning I 
got a breakfast from the "hostel-father," who occupied the other 
half of the house. A part of the bakers went with me; some of 
them paid cash, others ate on credit. The breakfast cost twenty 
grosz. But there were more who had nothing to pay with, and 
they got a good abusing from the wife of the "hostel-father," 
whom they called "hostel-mother." "You choleras, drunkards, 
dog's blood! Shall I feed you gratis? You have money for 
liquor, all of you, but not for eating [" iarcie,*^ used only of animals]. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 195 

But I won't give you any more, know this!" But some of them, 
more familiar, began to beg: ''But you will give us, little mother, 
our dear mother, we will pay later!" And saying this, they kissed 
her dirty hand. And so it was almost every day, as long as I 
ate there. 

I must mention what were the duties of the hostelry "father" 
and "mother." The "father" inscribed the bakers and sent 
them to work, when anybody needed a worker, either for a night 
or as a steady job. -Moreover he had to see that the bakers did 
not fight and drink in the hostelry. The "mother" had to wash 
the hostelry linen. They received lodging and a small salary 
from the bakery-owners. But they did not do their duties well. 
They were elected by the journeymen themselves for a period of 
three years. 

After breakfast I went to a coffee-house and wrote a letter to 
Pawel, asking him to come, and giving him the address of the 
hostelry. He had been already in apprenticeship for three years 
and was to be emancipated next year. I would have found him 
myself but I was not sure what he would say if I came into his 
master's shop. I sent the letter by mail and the next evening 
after ten — for they closed the shop at that hour — Pawel came 
to me. I was waiting for him on the street, and we went for a 
walk. On the one hand he was glad, but on the other not very 
much so when I told how many bakers were here without work. 
[Pawel is throughout very brotherly, walks with Wladek and 
furnishes his food. Wladek visits an aunt, and finds her in poor 
circumstances, dependent on her daughters who work in a factory 
and are coarse: "Dog's blood! mother, have the supper at once, 
for I have no time."] 

Thus I lived in Lddz for three months without any work. 
During this time my clothes were badly worn. I had sold my 
overcoat and spent the money for living, my shoes scarcely hung 
upon my feet, and although Pawel and I both searched for work 
every day we could find nothing. I should perhaps have died 
from hunger had it not been for Pawel who helped me sometimes 
with money or food as much as he could; but he could not do 
much, for he was as naked himself as a Turkish saint [Proverb]. 
Although I had many relatives, I would not go to them, and I 
had not even clothes in which to go. 

I learned during this time that there was still another baker's- 



196 THE POLISH PEASANT 

hostelry [bakers who did not belong to the corporation]. I went 
there with Pawe! and the latter begged the keeper much to get 
work for me. I stayed there, and the keeper had to find work 
for me, for I owed him for living. I got work indeed, but worked 
no more than two days in a week, for which I had two roubles, 
enough to live, but not enough to buy any clothes. Every day 
my clothes looked worse, and I was in despair. I wept, I walked, 
I searched, but could find nothing. At last, when Pawel gave me 
once a few grosz I went to the near town of Zgierz and found there 
work as a Werkmeister in the bakery of Mr. Z. for sixteen roubles 
a month and board. I was indeed afraid to accept such a work, 
for I had never been a Werkmeister. In our specialty there are 
three kinds of journeymen: ^^Kisior^^* who makes nothing but 
[rye-] bread, " Weiss kneter" who makes rolls, and the elder, " Werk- 
meisUr^'* whose duty is to watch the others and see that they 
work well. In Zgierz, as well as in Lodz, they baked only Vienna 
rolls, and I did not know this work well enough, but being in a 
very critical position, I accepted and began to work, informing 
Pawel at the same time, for whom I had been a great burden. 

We were two journeymen, with an unskilled man to help us. 
The Weisskneter was also an inexperienced young man. He had 
worked with Mr. Z. for a long time and was very familiar with 
him; Mr. Z. called him by his name, Felek. Mr. Z. was a young 
man; he had been married for a few months and had a wife who 
was not pretty but very sympathetic. He liked drinking and 
was an awful dangler; we shall learn about it a little later. They 
had a maid, Andzia, a rather pretty but spoiled girl. Felek, as 
I noticed from the beginning, wanted to have a flirtation with 
her, but she did not want him. In the same house lived a student. 

The work did not go badly at first, but Mr. Z. put aside every 
spoiled or burned roll or loaf and deducted its value from my 
wages. As there was rather much baking, a day never passed 
without it, but I bore all this for I had to do it in order to live. 
Even if Felek had spoiled anything Mr. Z. said nothing to him 
but to me. I was not a great friend of Felek; we almost never 
went to walk. I did not like him, for he tried always to draw 
words from me and then took them upstairs to Mr. Z. I got 
acquainted with the student, took books from him and read them. 
Then I read for the first time With Fire and Sword and many other 
good and interesting books. I wrote a letter to my parents and 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 197 

soon received an answer. They informed me that their condition 
was very bad. Father had to go to work digging turf, and earned 
50 copeks a day. Mother was almost always in bad health. 
[They hope that Stach will get a better position and take them 
to him. Wladek weeps. Mr. Z.'s wife sympathizes with him.] 
One evening, when Andzia brought us the supper to the bakery, 
Fclek tried to kiss her, but she defended herself stubbornly and 
refused to yield Suddenly Mr. Z. came in. Felek let her go 
and she fled into the kitchen. Mr. Z. was rather merry with 
drink, so instead of abusing, as I expected him to do, he began 
to laugh, calling Felek a clumsy fellow, since he was unable to 
seduce Andzia. At last he said: "Foolish with her as much as 
you please, and if she becomes pregnant, I will drive her to the 
devil.** He gave us information how and where we could foolish, 
and went out.' Felek, made bold by Mr. Z.'s permission, set to 
work still more seriously, but it did not help, for she refused to 
yield. As to me, I was not interested in all this, although I was 
sure that I could have profited from Andzia much more easily 
than Felek, for often when I went out in the evening to play my 
ocarina, Andzia came and sat down near me and listened. Or ' 
again, when I read some book after dinner she came and asked \ 
me to read aloud, for she liked books also. Sometimes she tried 
to excite me by words or acts; she pinched or tickled me sometimes. 
She said that I had no blood at all. But I did not care about it, 
for I was not disposed at that time toward girls; I had too much 
trouble.' I was afraid to leave lest I should suffer hunger again. 
Pawel once called on me during this time and I complained to 
him, but although he would have been heartily glad to help me, 
he could do nothing. He needed help and comfort himself in 

* Nothing could better show the dissolution of the guild traditions, with 
the old familial character of relations between the master and the journeymen 
and servants. The master of handicraft here assumes the typical attitude of 
masculine solidarity usual between men where sexual relations with women 
of a lower social level are concerned. 

' We find this attitude manifested later more than once. Sexual life is 
treated as a luxury to be indulged only- when other primary needs of existence 
are satisfied and the economic situation is secure; in this way it becomes a 
part of the hedonistic organization of life which, as we shall see (Vol. V) is 
partly opposed to practical organization and can occur only when the latter 
is sufficient to give the individual at least a provisional feeling of security. 
(C/. also p. 175, note.) 



198 THE POLISH PEASANT 

order to hold out in his practice, for he complained also that he 
had to work heavily. He showed me his hands; they were really 
much worn with work. So we both wept and comforted each 
other. . . . But Pawel was in a different environment; he was 
among intelligent people and became such himself, while I lived 
among tramps and was growing a tramp myself. As he said, 
he was considered something better than a tavern-keeper's son, 
and never betrayed himself; he was afraid I might come to his 
master's shop and betray who we were, for he said this could 
bring him harm in the future.' I thought in the beginning that 
he was ashamed of me, but he persuaded me that it was not so. 
Pawei complained much about our parents, that they let them- 
selves be fooled by Stach. 

Thus my time passed not gaily in Zgitn and there were no 
prospects of improvement. Then came my mistress' name-day. 
The evening before Mr. Z. came to the bakery and told us to 
hurry with our work for the next day he would give us a May 
party [forest-party], although May was passed long ago. But we 
guessed that tomorrow was Mrs. Z.'s name-day, so when Mr. Z, 
left we began to compose wishes. I knew many name-day poems. 
but from books, and I wanted to compose a poem myself. Toward 
evening my wishes were ready. But as I repeated them often 
aloud, fearing I should stammer in saying them, which would be 
a shame, Felek learned them also and after the work repeated 
them to me. I asked him whether he had anything ready: *^0f 
course I have," he answered. He finished his work a little earlier 
than I, for I had still a few loaves of bread in the oven, and he 
went the first to say his wishes. I was curious what poem he 
would say and listened under the door. But I was very frightened 
when I heard what he said, for it was precisely my own poem 
upon which I had worked during the whole night and hardly suc- 
ceeded in putting together. "Swine," I thought, and came down 
and began to bake the bread, thinking what I should say. After a 
moment Felek came back, very well satisfied. I asked him how 
he succeeded. He said, "Very well." Then I said in wrath: 
"Such a thief must always succeed." — "And what did I steal?" 

* Typical climbing attitude, justifiable by the prevalence of class distinc- 
tions. This severing of social bonds between the individual and the family ii 
made possible only by the new social hierarchy based on individual instead of 
familial distinction. (C/. Vol. I, Introduction: I Class-System,) 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 199 

— "You dare to ask? Did you not say the poem upon which I 
worked during the whole night?" — "I don*t care; you could 
have learned it silently." We could not quarrel any longer for 
it was time for me to go and say my wishes. I was not yet de* 
cided what to say, but when I strained my memory while washing 
my hands I recalled a rather long poem which I said once to my 
mother. So without delaying any longer I went to the room. 
While I was saying my wishes, Felek also listened under the door. 
He thought perhaps that I would say the same poem which he 
did, but he was mistaken, for I said a very beautiful and long one 
without any stammering; even Andzia, who listened in the kitchen, 
praised me later. Thus I excelled Felek. Mr. Z. was in the 
shop and heard only little of what I said, but this did not prevent 
him from thanking me nicely. [Breakfast for Wladek and Felek 
in the room of the Z.'s, with gifts and brandy. In the forest Mrs. 
Z. said she had a gift for the one who would gather for her the 
nicest nosegay.] We all went at the appointed hour. I was glad 
that I was able to get away from the company, for, first, I was 
not decently dressed, and then I had always the idea of leaving 
Mr. Z., for I considered that he was robbing me and therefore I 
disliked him much. I thought that for the money which he kept 
out of my wages he could have made a much better May party, 
and if he had given it to me I should now be decently dressed and 
could buy better gifts than those which he gave me. Although 
sometimes when it was necessary I pretended to be merry, this 
was only superficial; if any one could have seen what was going 
on inside of me he would have sympathized with me. Since I 
came to Lodz I had been unfortunate, and anxiety about the future 
oppressed me. When I went for flowers I did not search for them, 
but sat down near the lake and began to reflect about my present 
situation and what profit my present work brought me. In my 
opinion, none, for I had worked already almost twelve weeks, 
and got no more than ten roubles; the rest was kept back. During 
this time it often happened that I was not guilty at all, but Felek 
had either weighed too large rolls or had made the oven too hot, 
and I had to pay for this also, and walk almost naked. But I 
did not dare to leave for I knew Ldd2 well enough and was sure 
that I should not get work there quickly. I had little profit, but 
on the other hand perhaps also a very great one, for I had learned 
another work. The baking was the same in L6d2 and in Zgierz, 



200 THE POLISH PEASANT 

so this was the only profit which I got from staying with Mr. Z. 
I remembered Sosnowiec where my salary was smaller and I 
had more money. And the moments I spent there with Miss 
Dora! At the mere idea of it I shuddered. And then in Kolo 
with Mr. K. I was not badly off either. And here I did not want 
to do anything, I did not try to get acquainted with anybody, 
the girls did not interest me at all and might as well not have 
existed for me. Why, one of them came with us today and I did 
not exchange a word with her. Sitting thus, I resolved to write 
the next day four letters, one to my parents, another to Pawel, 
a third to Miss Dora, a fourth to Kazia. I decided to leave this 
place, whatever might happen later. 

With this decision I rose and began to gather flowers. I had 
some taste in arranging nosegays, for from the time I was a child 
I often saw how my sisters arranged them, and once I had re- 
ceived a prize in Brze§£. ... I gathered flowers and arranged 
them. When I came to the meeting-place I noticed that Felek 
had prettier flowers than I had, but not nicely arranged; Mr. 
Z. brought very few flowers and got wet in some ditch where he 
tried to get them; the driver brought the most flowers but not 
arranged at all, and Mrs. Z.'s sister picked nothing but forget- 
me-nots. After a short reflection I received the prize, but when 
I looked at Felek I should have preferred to have him get it, he 
was so angry. It was a scarf-pin worth perhaps fifty copecks, 
which was probably destined for me, because it was very similar 
to the button-set which I had received. . . . We ate, . . . bathed 
in the lake and went home. 

A few days after this Pawel came to me. When I related to 
him what work I had here he told me to come back to Lodz, per- 
haps I should find something. "Why, you won't die from hunger, 
we shall try to find some way." Again we walked much and 
cried a little together, and he left, asking me to inform him by 
letter. Next Monday I went to my master's shop and told him 
to search for another journeyman. He asked me why I was 
leaving. I answered: "How can you ask why I am leaving.? 
You know that I have worked for about four months with you 
and I have no money to buy trousers." — "Then I shall pay you 
suitably. Will you remain.?" — "And why did you not pay me 
suitably up to the present.?" — "Because I did not want you to 
learn to be a Werkmeister without paying, and upon my goods. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 201 

These are many who would like to be Werkmeisters under such 
conditions! I have taught you to work in the Vienna roll busi- 
nessj you have paid me and we are square. Now I will pay you 
the full pay. Will you remain.^" At this moment Felek came 
to my mind and I said : "No, for Felek plays me too many tricks." ' 
— "All right," answered Mr. Z. and our conversation was ended. 
After this, according to the law, I was still obliged to work for 
two weeks. I worked three before Mr. Z. found another jour- 
neyman. 

I went directly to Lodz, not to the main hostelry, but to the 
bungler-hostelry. I wrote a letter to Pawel. I had more than 
twelve roubles with me, but was afraid to buy any clothes. I 
kept the money for living. ... I could get no job, but earned 
every week enough to live, for I worked at least two days a week. 
Once, when I was already asleep, a telephone call came asking 
for a good iVerkmeister, There was nobody in the hostelry except 
me, so the proprietor roused me, saying: "Get up, you shall go 
for a fajerant [Feierabend]," for so we called a single night's work. 
I began to excuse myself, saying that I was not a good Werk^ 
meisier^ but this did not help. I had to dress, took a car and went 
to the bakery, which was upon the main street. When I arrived 
I looked through the window into the shop, and was very frightened, 
for I saw there different kinds of baker-products of which I had 
no idea at all. So I did not want to go in, but to walk through the 
night. But then I reflected that they might call again, and then 
it would not be good for me, for I should not get another /o/Vran^ 
" Well, never mind what happens. They won't kill me," I thought, 
and rang the bell. In the courtyard I saw perhaps two hundred 
planks full of Vienna rolls and was frightened again, but crossed 
myself and went into the bakery. When I entered, saying, "Good 
evening," I saw that twelve journeymen were at work, among 
them old men in comparison with whom I looked like a child. 
They all turned their eyes upon me and laughed viciously. One 
of them asked whether I was sent as a Werkmeister. "Yes," I 
answered. Then he sent the servant to bring the master. When 
the latter came he put the same question, and when he got the 
same answer, he sat down, and I went to undress. When I came 
back, they told me to sit down, for it was an hour until I had to 
begin to put the rolls in the oven, and the Werkmeister in a large 
' Cf. p. i8if note i. 



302 THE POLISH PEASANT 

bakery does not work at the dough. I lighted a cigarette and 
waited full of terror. And the master did not leave, and this 
grieved me still more for he would look at my hands during my 
work. When the time came, the same man who had asked me 
before said: '^ Well, Mr. Werkmeister^ it is time to go to the oven.'* 
I ordered the servant to clean the oven from coals and when he 
finished I began to prepare the oven and to put in the rolls. The 
master moved nearer in order to see better, and not only he but 
all the journeymen were curious how I would get through it. The 
oven was rather hot, so I had to hurry terribly in order not to 
spoil the rolls. I used my whole baker's skill and did not spoil 
them, but it was only God who granted it, for in reality I did not 
know the matter so well The master, seeing that things were 
going on well, went to sleep. In the morning that journeyman 
came for whom I was substituting and went first to the master, 
asking him whether I had spoiled the work. Then he paid me 
three roubles, for the one night. This was the first time I earned 
so much during a single night. Then the master treated me to 
breakfast and a glass of vodka, saying: ^'Well, I see that today 
old people ought to leam from the young ones." Then I said 
goodbye and left, a foot higher.' [This incident leads to other 
similar work, but Wladek gets no regular job until he overhears 
a workman saying he is leaving his present place. For three 
roubles the workman introduces him there and he gets the place.] 
I did not go out anywhere and did not spend money in vain. I 
soon paid my debt to Pawel, 5 rb. 50 — he did not ask more — 

' Wladek shows less self-conceit than usual in this story. It illustrates 
the influence of social organization on individual attitudes. Socially organ- 
ized activity gives an objective hierarchy of values which the individual who 
is active in this line must recognize, and in this way his own attitudes become 
regulated. But when the individual is active in a line where social organiza- 
tion is lacking his tendencies can express themselves without being subjected 
to a regulating comparison. In a field where no objective standards of appre- 
ciation exist he may claim for the products of his work a value that is limited 
only relatively by comparison with the achievement of others. Wladek never 
expresses any doubt about his art of arranging nosegays or his ability to seduce 
girls. He does express doubt about the merit of a poem included in this 
volume and which he knows will be judged by certain standards. This 
problem is different from that of the occupational interest as dependent on 
the amount of change permitted by the occupation. The socially organized 
activity may include more or less variety than the free activity, but it always 
demands more effort. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 203 

and bought a suit and all necessary clothing. As I have said, 
I had not much work and worked alone, so I began to go out more 
frequently, particularly to my cousins, of whom I had counted 
more than twenty. There were among them nice and horrid, 
intelligent and stupid ones. But I heard rumors that there was 
still another cousin, young and very pretty, with whom I had 
had no opportunity to get acquainted, for I could not meet her 
anywhere and I did not know where she lived. 

Winter came, but I was not afraid of it, for I had a suit and 
an overcoat, and work. Next autumn Pawei was to become a 
salesman; even now, as an older apprentice, his condition had 
much improved, for he had already some commission on goods 
which he sold and he did not lack money as much as before. We 
spent every free moment together except some evenings on which 
he went to take music and dancing lessons, for he learned to play 
the violin and piano. On Sunday between four and six he went 
to the school. In a word, he was educating himself in all respects.' 
When there was a party in his master's home he was always 
invited. As he said, he was well considered by his master. But 
I was not only never in his master's home, but not even in the 
shop, for Pawei did not wish it. 



Thus time passed until Christmas. Before Christmas I got 
letters from my former girls. Dora wrote that she had already 
a suitor, a glove-maker from Turek, and did not know what to 
do, for she did not like him much, while her parents tried to per- 
suade her to marry him. Kazia wrote me that everything was 
as before, there were no changes, only Jozef was taken to the 
army. From my parents I got also a letter full of tears and com- 
plaints about misery. Father promised to come to Lodz after 
Christmas, saying that he would try to find some job, but I and 
Pawei knew very well that it was not really a question of job, 

* We do not know from Pawei's childhood whether originally his desire 
for new experience was less strong than that of Wladek. There have certainly 
been more persistent organizing influences in his case — a settled condition, 
a master interested in him and associates of a higher social and intellectual 
level. 



204 THE POLISH PEASANT 

but of money; he hoped to get some from us, while he did not 
dare to ask Aleksy or Stach for help.' I answered the letters and 
wrote to Dora's parents, asking them not to compel Dora to 
marry if she did not wish it,* and describing how I was getting on. 

For Christmas I was invited to Mr. and Mrs. Czarnocki, 
remote relatives of my mother, with whom I was on terms of 
"Sir'* and "Madam." They had two grown-up sons and one 
daughter. I foynd there many young people and among them 
was also that cousin about whom I had heard, and her brother. 
Her name was Mania, and her brother's Franus. When I was 
introduced to her I really turned my whole attention to her for 
she was young, no more than seventeen, and very pretty. She 
was learning to be a seamstress, and Franus went to the factory 
and supported her. Their parents lived near Sosnowiec; they 
had there a few morgs of land, and paid for their daughter's 
apprenticeship. Mania had another sister in Lodz, a married 
one, named Jozia. Mania was a dark brunette with large eyes 
which attracted like a magnet. Tall, well-shaped, those who 
did not know her might think her to be something much better 
than a peasant's daughter. She pleased me very much at first 
sight, and if I knew how to love, I could say that I fell in love with 
her. But alas! I was not created to love. How many girls 
I knew in my life! And always, while I was near a girl I felt 
bound to her and I was myself persuaded that I loved her, but 
I could leave every one of them without regret and forget her 
soon.^ And it was the same with Mania. I was spellbound by 
her beauty, but did I love her.^ We shall see. 

I tried particularly to please her brother, for I thought that 
if I pleased him and he invited me I should meet Mania there 
and get better acquainted with her. And so it happened. When 
I was sitting near Franus he asked me why I never called upon 
him, although I had been in Lodz for so long a time. I tried to 
excuse myself, saying that I had not had his address. "But now, 

' The children have climbed higher than the parents, the authority of the 
latter is gone, and we have a case typical for immigrant families in America. 

' He had never defined the situation connected with Dora, and is *un- 
conscious of impertinence here. He apparently conceives his relation with 
Dora's parents as being of the familial type. 

' He is of course as much capable of love as his intellectual and sentimental 
level permit. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 205 

if you will permit me to visit you, I am ready to be even a frequent 
guest." — "I shall be very glad if you visit me as often as you 
can; then we shall talk." He wrote his address down for me 
and then we moistened our friendship with brandy. After this 
I begged his pardon, since I had already attained what I wished, 
and I went to Mania who was sitting without company although 
there were some boys present. But I did not talk long with 
her for the oldest son of Mr. Cz. began to play the accordeon 
and we danced. I danced the first piece with Mania. She 
danced well enough, perhaps not so well as gracefully. In a 
word, everything in her was pretty and graceful. I courted all 
the girls, but none as much as Mania. It was noticed soon, 
and Mr. Cz.'s daughter asked me in a whisper whether I was 
already much in love with Mania. I said that I only intended 
to be so, and thus the matter ended. . . . We left about one 
o'clock and Mania asked me to accompany her and her brother. 
"All right, cousin, if you permit it," I answered, and took her 
arm, while Franus went by our side. It was far, an hour's walk, 
and the street-cars were not running, but it was a pleasure to 
walk with such an agreeable little person. When we reached 
their lodging we were already familiar with each other. I wanted 
to bid them good-bye, but they invited me to come in and I did 
it gladly. Their home was poor — a single room under the roof, 
for which he paid twenty roubles yearly, and inside two beds, 
a table, a trunk, a few chairs, and nothing more. But every- 
thing was very clean. Mania made a fire in the little stove and 
prepared tea. The next day was Sunday, so we were not in a 
hurry to go to sleep and we sat until four talking. At four I 
started to leave, but my cousin said: "Where will you go now? 
Lie down upon my bed with me." I agreed and we did so. We 
removed our shoes, coats and collars and lay down, while Mania 
put out the light and slept in the other bed. I could not sleep 
at once, for my thoughts were occupied with the acquaintance 
I had made with my cousin. To say the truth, she was my very 
distant cousin, for her great-grandmother and mine were sisters, 
so it was the fourth degree. I was very glad, for now I should 
have my girl in Lodz.' I longed much for one, but up to the 
present could not meet any one who pleased me. I revolved in 

' Familial relationship used as the basis upon which the romantic relation 
will be established. 



2o6 THE POLISH PEASANT 

my head plans of action, and I was almost sure of myself, for 
Mania said that she did not walk with any boy, and I was not 
afraid of any rival. Up to the present I had succeeded rather 
well with girls and none of those with whom I wanted to get 
acquainted had rejected me, so I had good hopes now. 

I could not sleep, for Mania's bed stood not far from ours and 
I heard her breathing. It was already broad daylight and Mania 
got up to cook the breakfast before I slept a little. I must confess 
that when she was getting up in nothing but a night-gown, think- 
ing that I was asleep, and dressed herself without any precautions, 
I don't know what I should have done but for my cousin. When 
the breakfast was ready, Mania roused Franus and he roused me. 
We rose in a very good humor. Franus brought something to 
drink, and this made us still more gay, for Mania drank a glass 
also. After breakfast, or rather dinner, for it was noon already 
when we finished it, Franus asked me to go with him to his other 
sister Jozia, but Mania gave me various signs to remain. At 
least she said; ^^Go yourself, Franus, and our cousin and I will 
come later." — "Only come certainly," he said and left, while 
we both remained. Upon the table lay pla3H[ng cards. I took 
them, and Mania asked me whether I knew how to tell fortunes. 
"I know." — "Then tell mine." I had some idea about telling 
fortunes, but no more than she had. We sat down near each other 
and I. began to tell her fortune, but everything for my own benefit. 
At last, bored with this empty prattling, I threw the cards down, 
and began a conversation, turning it upon different subjects and 
I came to the conclusion that for a girl of Lodz, she was too little 
educated by reading and too naive, while on the other hand she 
was rather too capricious. But it was a trifling reason to hinder 
me from trying to acquire her sympathy. While we sat thus 
talking, evening approached. Mania said: "Do you know? We 
shall go to my friends the Hibners. There are a few girls there 
and perhaps one of them will please you." — "Why should I 
search for one, when you have pleased me already? If you allow 
me, let us spend our time together [usually]. You have told me 
that you had no boy, and I don't walk with any girl either and 
don't even know any." — "I don't believe that you don't walk 
with any girl. Every boy has a girl." — "And why don't you 
have a boy?" — "With me the matter is different. I have no 
time, for I am learning cutting and must draw in the evenings, 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 207 

and moreover Franus won't allow anybody to come to us." — 
"Then perhaps he won't allow me either." — "Oh, that is different; 
you are our cousin, and then he has allowed you already and even 
invited you to come as often as possible."' — "I won't fail to 
take advantage of this." — "But let us go, for we must go later 
to our sister, or else Franus will be angry. . . ." 

We went to the Hibners, who were Mania's relatives. Nobody 
was there except the family, four daughters, and almost all of 
them grown up. We played with nuts at pair or impair, and the 
girls wanted me to lose, for the loser was to buy a pound of nuts, 
but I used my old trick, holding in one hand an even, in the other 
hand an odd number, and they could never guess. I began at 
once to call the girls by name and they did the same.' We did 
not stay there long and left urgently invited by them for the New 
Year and asked to bring Franus with us. It was rather far to 
Mania's sister, so I took a two-horse cab, which cost fifty copecks. 
There were already some strangers present but all of them a little 
better people, for Jozia's husband was master in a factory and 
earned rather well; moreover she was rather well instructed. 
It pleased me much there, but as far as I noticed, my cousin, 
although well enough educated, was awfully stingy.* I won't 
relate the details of my relation with Mania, for nothing important 
happened except that I kissed her a few times. I went there 

* This situation shows a different social attitude from the one found amonS 
the peasants on the one hand and the higher classes on the other. We know 
from the first two volumes that a peasant boy or girl should associate with 
more than one person of the other sex, but there is always marriage ultimately ^''• 
in view. Among the upper classes any particular attention paid to a girl 
involves immediately the expectation of marriage. Here the relation between 

boy and girl is a flirtation for its own sake. Wladek's relation with the girl 
in Brzete was of this type; his relation with Dora was only partly so, for there 
was a vague idea of marriage and a strong romantic attitude. His relation 
with Kazia is totally different and essentially peasant. The attitude of 
flirtation is typical for the lower city classes. 

' He did not do this with Mania, although the relationship is less remote, 
because he intended to make love to her and did not wish to classify her imme- 
diately as member of the family. 

* An attitude acquired in town; with the peasant hospitality is an abso- 
lute rule. These three children of peasants — Jozia, Mania, Franus — had 
acquired the city attitudes very rapidly, but they had come to the city in 
childhood and without their parents. 



4 



2o8 THE POLISH PEASANT 

whenever I had free time, we often went to the theater, and in 
this way the time passed. 

[His father visits L5dz. Introduces him at the bakery, lodges 
him, goes with him to look for a job as street-car conductor, etc.] 
When father was leaving I treated him to a good lunch, then gave 
him 3 roubles and Pawel gave i rouble. I had almost no money 
left. As to Pawel, I don't know. Again time passed, one day 
like another, and Easter came. Before Easter I bought two big 
babas [cake used during Easter], a bottle of not very good wine, 
some sweetmeats, and took all this to cousin Franus, for we had 
agreed to spend Easter in his home. I had not seen Pawel during 
the whole week. On Sunday morning he came to me, and we 
went together to cousin Franus. I had spoken to Pawel more 
than once about Mania, and he wanted to know her. When we 
came to our cousins' home everything was ready for the lunch. 
We divided the egg, drank vodka and began to eat, while the 
young and pretty hostess served us. Mania pleased Pawel 
decidedly, and as he was more talkative than I and somewhat 
more shapely, he did not need to make much effort to get her 
attention. I got very jealous and angry with Pawel and with 
myself for having brought him there. It was late in the after- 
noon when we finished. Then we went to the theater, and at 
last to a coffee-house, where we sat until late in the night. We 
made arrangements about the following day and the dyngus, but 
neither Pawel nor Franus knew that Mania and I had agreed 
previously to go the next day to Pabianice. 

Next morning I went to Mania very-early, and I even brought 
a small bottle of perfume in order to sprinkle her." But what 
was my astonishment when I found Pawel there already, sitting 
very near to Mania. I did not show that I was angry, but I was. 
And we had agreed to go to Pabianice at ten o'clock! After 
a while Mania went to the vestibule as if to brush her jacket and 
gave me a sign with her eyes to follow her. She told me that she 
would not go to Pabianice. "Why won't you go?" I asked, 
almost in wrath, "and where is your word of honor?" Saying 
this, I returned to the room without waiting for her answer. A 
moment later she came back, but after a while she went out again, 
giving me the sign to follow, and asked me; "Weil, what shall 

' It was dynguj day, and the perfume is a city refinement of the peasant 
watez^throwing habit. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 209 

we do? We cannot go thus, for Franus and your brother will 
guess." — "Listen what I tell you. I will go first and wait at 
the street-car station." — "All right." I went in first, and then 
Mania, who said: "Franus, I am going to the church and perhaps 
I shan't return soon, for I must go to my friend who invited me 
to come today." And she began to get ready. When she was 
half ready she gave me the sign to leave. I said good-bye to her 
and Franus and asked Pawel to come with me to the church. 
But Pawel answered: "Wait, we shall all go together, for cousin 
Mania is also going." — "I cannot, for I must drop in somewhere 
before going to the church." I left and went straight to the 
station. I had waited almost an hour, and Mania was not to 
be seen. I was persuaded that she would not come and resolved 
to go home, inhumanly angry. But on leaving the station I met 
Pawel and Mania eye to eye. Pawel was astonished at seeing 
me, but guessed quickly what was the matter and said. "Aha, 
you have a randka [rendezvous]. Well, well! I will tell Franus." 
Mania reddened deeply and said aloud: "I won't go. Go alone, 
if you wish." And she turned toward home. Then I pushed 
Pawel slightly and looked terribly at him. Without waiting any 
longer, he jumped into a street-car which was passing and went 
home. Mania was not easily persuaded, but at last I succeeded 
by imploring her and promising in Pawel's name that he would 
not betray us in spite of his threat. When we came to Pabianice 
it was about two o'clock, so we walked a little about the town and 
then went to the hotel to dine. I asked for a separate room and 
ordered a dinner there, a small bottle of cognac and some cakes. 
In the evening we went to the theatre, and then again to the hotel. 
Finally Mania got quite drunk and I could not return while she 
was in such a state, so I resolved to stay there over night. I took 
a room with a single bed and with the help of the waiter I carried 
my Mania there, almost completely unconscious. Then I ordered 
a seltzer bottle, some juice and half a bottle cognac, and when it 
was brought I closed the door and we remained alone. I began 
to undress her. But it is difiicult to describe what was going on 
in me when I came closer and closer to her warm body. At last 
I began to cover her with kisses. I put her into the bed and drank 
half a bottle of soda-water, for I had not the courage to violate 
a senseless girl. I promised myself to take the reward next morn- 
ing when she was conscious. I leaned my head upon the table 



2IO THE POLISH PEASANT 

and thus fell asleep for a few hours. In the morning Mania was 
not to be aroused, so I took a little water and poured it upon her 
face, and this had an e£Fect. Mania opened her eyes and could 
not understand at once what had happened and where she was. 
But after a moment she began to feel ashamed and covered her- 
self, asking me about the details, in what way she got into bed 
here and was undressed. I related ever3rthing, how I had to 
bring her here, without mentioning the waiter's help, so as not to 
make her still more ashamed. Then Mania began to despair 
terribly about what her brother and her sister would say of her 
spending the whole night away from home. I began to calm 
her, saying that I had a plan ready which would get her out of 
the trouble, and I sat nearer to her. But she covered herself 
completely with the cover. I began to tear the cover from her 
face in order to kiss her, and if she had allowed me, it would have 
ended with kisses. But as she teased me, I became wilder and 
wilder. At last I could not hold out, I threw myself upon her 
with my whole strength like a wolf upon a sheep, and although she 
tried to defend herself and threatened to call, it did not help. 

At the end she began to complain that she had listened to me 
and came to Pabianice. ^'What shall I do now, what shall I 
do?" she lamented. "Nothing will happen to you." — "And 
if something happens?" — "Don't fear anything. It happened 
so that you don't need to be afraid. And now dress yourself for 
it is near noon and time to return home." — "All right, but you 
dress first and leave the room, and I will dress later." — "What? 
Are you ashamed of me? And yesterday I undressed you and 
you were not ashamed?" — "Yes, but I did not see it." After 
these words I kissed her again, dressed and went out to settle the 
account, which was rather large. If it had cost one rouble more 
we should have been obliged to return to Lodz afoot. When I 
came back Mania was already dressed. [Wladek goes first to 
Franus, Mania comes in later and says she spent the night with 
a girl friend] and thus the fright ended.' Meanwhile Franus put 
out a bottle of brandy which was left from the holidays, we drank 

* The episode lacks all the social and moral elements. It is not regulated 
by the traditional norms of marriage; it does not reach the level of romantic 
love which, even in the simple form existing between Dora and Wladek, is a 
basis of a certain life-organization; as a mere flirtation for provoking response 
jt goes too far. Mania had no interest in it. Wladek does not try to repeat it. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 211 

one glass, then another, and ate cakes until the supper was ready. 
At nine I went home. 

I slept till noon the next day, for I had a whole week free.' I 
wrote a few letters and busied myself with my thoughts. I was, 
first of all, very anxious about my work, for my master intended 
to rent the bakery, for he did not want to have any more trouble 
about it. He was rich enough; he had a big stone house, began 
to build a second, and he did not need the bakery. He advertised 
in all the local papers that he had a bakery to rent and at any time 
somebody might take it. And then what would become of me? 
I should be forced again to wander. Usually every owner has 
his own workmen whom he has taught himself. It is true that 
I did not earn much, but I felt very well off. No bakers came to 
me, the master did not control me much, I worked alone and was 
my own master. I had 24 roubles of wages due, for I had spent 
in Pabianice with Mania the extra money I had earned before 
Easter in baking [the neighbors'] Easter-cakes. While I was 
working I never went to a tavern. In private houses, when there 
was an opportunity, I drank, but never too much. I had almost 
no acquaintances except my various relatives. Strange girls 
disliked me much, for I usually told them the truth, except the 
one who had pleased me, and even to her I sometimes said very 
politely what I thought about girls. And up to the present I 
could not find any one whom I could truly love. All those whom 
I knew were only good to play with. But I did not worry much 
about this for I was still too young [to marry]. I was finishing 
my eighteenth year, but time passed and I could not make any 
money, although I was called parsimonious. I had not much 
clothing — one old suit worth very little, another which I bo\ight 
when I began to work, one J>air of shoes, a winter overcoat, not 
very fine, a little linen and 24 roubles in cash. This was my 
whole fortune. It is true that I had paid Pawel eleven roubles 
back, I gave three to my father, another three were spent when 
my father was here. Washing of linen cost me almost fifty 
copecks a week, cigarettes cost something also, and often when 
I had time I went to moving pictures.' 

X Some bakeries are closed because the people have a surplus of Easter 
cakes, etc. 

' His periodically returning moods of reflection are typically peasant (rf. 
VoL I, Introduction: Theoretic and JBsthetic Interests). Normal life it essen- 



212 THE POLISH PEASANT 

Thus I reflected till evening came and I went to meet PaweL 
We walked about the city,, talking of Mania, with whom he was 
even more in love than I. He asked me where we had been and 
what we had done. Of course I did not tell him everything, only 
what I thought possible, and I begged him not to betray us to 
Franus. Suddenly Pawel asked me to promise him not to go any 
more to Mania. "Why?" — "Because I confess openly that I 
have fallen in love with this girl, while you are only playing." 
— "And how can you know that I ani only playing.'* Perhaps 
I love her also." — "I don't see it in your behavior. And you 
and love are contraries. Tell me how many girls have you had 
whom you loved in the same way as Mania.?" — "Oh, stop annoy- 
ing me and don't turn my head about such things, for I am already 
angry with you for getting into my way. You have girls enough 
among your acquaintances, who are, as you boast, very intelligent 
and rich. Why do you need Mania.? I have none except her, 
and leave her to me; don't get in my way." I said this almost in 
wrath. " I only regret that I took you there." Talking thus we 
came to a shooting gallery. I miist add here that Pawel was very 
nervous and liked to boast. So it was now. He began to boast 
that he would hit oftener than I. So we made a bet that if he 
hit the mechanical tiger in the eye once in three shots I should 
cease to call on Mania, and if not he would not disturb me. Pawel 
shot ten times, and could not hit the tiger. I hit on the second 
shot. After this we walked a little more and Pawtl left me very 
angry, saying that we should try our luck some other time. 

Once I had not been to my cousin's for a week and longed much 
for Mania, so I went there on Sunday afternoon but found the 
door closed and both of them out. [Walks in the direction of 
Mania's sister's house and finds there guests and a christening.] 
I noticed that a rather young and very handsome man was talking 

tially practical and the main subject-matter of Wladek's thought is always the 
practical economic situation; sexual life plays a secondary role and we never 
find him during these periods thinking about any general theoretic problems. 
But while his intellectual level in this respect is hardly higher than that of 
the average peasant, he likes to show intellectual and sesthetic interests, and 
we have in this an intimation that even the sesthetic and intellectual life 
has originally a practical character — that they are connected with social 
expression and based on the need of social response and on the desire for new 
experience, ideas being substituted for experiences. This point is developed 
in Volume IV. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 213 

continually with Mania and she smiled at him rather amiably. 
This did not please me at all. I knew that the young man's 
name was Malicki, but I did not know at all who he was. He 
did not look like a workman but rather like some official [clerk]. 
So at the first opportunity I asked who this gentleman was. The 
host explained that he was a technician who was employed in the 
factory where Mr. Sz. worked. I was very much grieved, seeing 
that I had really a strong rival. So without waiting any longer 
I went and brutally, without begging Mr. M.'s pardon, invited 
Mania to dance. She did not refuse. During the dance I asked 
her whether she was already in love with Mr. M. But she an- 
swered that she could not get rid of him, for wherever she turned 
he followed her, so that she was almost ashamed. In dancing 
I behaved toward Mania rather freely, as with an old acquaintance, 
but I looked to see what he thought about it. He was probably 
as curious to learn who I was as I was curious to learn about him, 
for after a moment he arose, approached the host, and I noticed 
that they talked about me for their eyes turned toward us. Then 
I talked with Mania still more boldly and we laughed merrily. 
I did it intentionally in order to frighten my rival away at once 
and to show him that he had no chance. At last I led Mania to 
a seat and sat down near her. But then somebody asked her to 
dance, and Mr. Malicki, seeing that the chair near me was free, 
sat down and began to talk with me. I knew at once that I had 
to do with a very instructed man, such as I liked to discuss with 
when I had an opportunity. During the conversation the matter 
came to gymnastics and duelling. He told me that he had at 
home various apparatus for gymnastics, and also a stick in which 
a sword was hidden, a revolver and a rifle. "If you wish, I can 
show you all this, for I live here in the next house." — "All right," 
I answered, but I thought in my mind, "Surely he tells me all 
this in order to frighten me; but I am not a coward by birth either." 
And I measured Mr. Malicki's person. He was taller than I, 
but not heavier. We talked further, for, as he confessed, he 
belonged to the socialist party. [Visits Mr. M.'s apartment 
and finds that "he had not lied at all."} If my cousin had not 
been in the game I should have been very glad of this acquaintance 
with Mr. M. He had also a book-case full of books and said that 
he could lend me as many as I wanted. After some gymnastics 
Mr. M. took two bottles of beer from a closet and treated me with 



214 THE POLISH PEASANT 

it, asking how I was related to that girl with whom I danced. I 
answered him: "She is my cousin and my betrothed." — "Hum! 
Then you have a mad luck, for I should be rteady to take her 
away from you if it were not so." — "Oh, what is the need of 
your doing it? You can find more suitable matches, and leave 
this one to me, for I am a stranger here in Lodz and it will be 
difficult for me to find anything suitable." — "Don't fear. If 
she loves you really I shan't be able to take her away even if I 
wish it." We talked awhile longer and went back to the christen- 
ing, where the guests were already merry. We joined them, 
already in good relations and feeling no anger toward each other. 
We danced in turn with my cousin, but when Mr. M. went to 
dance with her he asked her whether it was true that we were 
engaged. She got very angry and after the dance approached 
me, saying: "Have you proposed to me already, my cousin, since 
you say that I am your betrothed?" — "Not yet, but it may 
happen tomorrow." — "And are you sure that I will accept you?" 

— "Almost sure." — "Oh, don't be so sure." And she left me 
quite angry. After this conversation I came to the conclusion 
that my cousin loved me as much as I loved her. We amused 
ourselves, having nothing else to choose. But I resolved not to 
let her go so easily and to rivalize a little with Mr. M., for nothing 
like this had ever happened to me [to be left by a girl]. I did not 
care much if I lost her. As some girls called me without a heart 

— well, let me be so really. For I never had the idea of marrying 
Mania. She was not such a girl as I wanted, and I had never 
yet met such a one among all the girls with whom I was acquainted. 
Then, I did not yet think about marrying; I had learned only 
from books to make love, and nothing more. For, to tell the 
truth, did a girl who at the first meeting allowed herself to be em- 
braced and kissed merit a steady love? Could I be sure that she 
would not do tomorrow with another what she did today with me? 
I sought a girl to whom I should have difficult access, whom I 
should be obliged to conquer by all my resources. I should have 
respected and perhaps even loved such a girl.' But I had not 

' The matter can hardly be explained, a8 it usually is, by rational con- 
siderations — that the girl who was easily won will be as easily won by others 
in the future. We cannot go into this question, but certainly Wladek, with 
his traditional background, needs the traditional familial form of courtship, 
which assumes the character of a socially important process. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 215 

had such a girl and I did not care much for those whom I had had; 
it was nothing but a distraction. It was the same now; Mania 
went away angry, but why should I mind her being angry if I 
was not? 

After these reflections I rose and went to dance with her, and 
she accepted. During the dance I asked her why she got so angry 
with me, whether only for my having said that she was my be- 
trothed. "Yes," she answered "for I am perfectly sure that this 
will never happen." — "And if it happens, what then?" — "Noth- 
ing. But don't think that I am so stupid and did not know you 
after our excursion to Pabianice. If you loved me really would 
you have behaved so? Would you have allowed me to get drunk? 
But you wanted to amuse yourself with me, and you were inter- 
ested in my drinking as much as possible. Tell me, don't I speak 
the truth?" ' Instead of answering I laughed at her very just 
reasoning. "Yes, my cousin, you laugh, for you know very well 
that I speak the truth. But if you tell every boy that I am your 
betrothed you will frighten everybody away from me and I shall 
sow the rue. So please don't do it any more." — "I see, my 
Mania, that you are really in love with this Mr. Malicki. If 
you want it really we may know one another no more, as formerly, 
since I am a disturbance to you." — "Don't even tell me that I 
am in love with him! Moreover he is not for me, such a cere- 
monious young man. And you don't disturb me at all. I am very 
glad that we got acquainted and are friends, only don't talk so 
any more." 

This happened on Sunday, and on Tuesday I went to Franus. 
Mania was not yet back from her work, and her drawing-book 
lay upon the table. I began to look it over. [Finds in it a picture 
post-card and puts it in his pocket. Mania returns an hour late 
and says she was detained by work. Wiadek finds, on leaving, 
that the card is from Mr. Malicki, inviting Mania to walk. He 
imitates the card, returns to Mania's the next day, throws the 
imitated card under the table, picks it up in such a way as to 
attract Mania's attention, who seizes it and bums it. Wiadek 
watches Mania and observes her meet Mr. M. after work and 
stop in a cafe. Conspires with Pawel to trap Mania. Pawel 
imitates the writing of Mr. M. cleverly and writes a note inviting 
Mania to meet him and have cakes in a cafe. They are to meet 

' Mania realizeB the abnormality of their relation. (C/. p. 207, note.) 



2i6 THE POLISH PEASANT 

her instead, and Wladek plans to "give her a couple of blows 
with a stick upon the back and drive her home, telling her the 
whole truth to her eyes."] » For a long while I continued to walk 
with Pawel, talking about the manner of acting in case she came 
to the appointed place. For Pawel did not know what we had 
done in Pabianice; this remained still our secret. As soon as we 
separated I went home, ate dinner, and walked to my cousin's. 
I found them both at home, but Franus went somewhere to his 
friends and we remained alone. Mania began to inquire why I 
had called so seldom during the last week and whether I was 
angry with her. "Angry with you.? Why should I be? You 
gave me no reason. I was twice here but you came home very 
late from your work and there was no time to talk. Moreover 
you would not have paid much attention to me, for you would 
have had to hurry with the supper. But tell me. Mania, how is 
it you are not afraid to walk back alone from your work? When 
you came on Tuesday it was quite dark." — "Why should I be 
afraid? I don't carry any money with me and nobody will kill 
me. Moreover, upon Piotrkowska Street people are always walk- 
ing, so I have nothing to fear." — "It is all right if you are not 
afraid. I said it only that you might guess my intention and ask 
me to accompany you home. It would be more pleasant for you 
and for me. Well, I don't know about you, but certainly for me, 
for now I have nothing to do from six to ten and thus we should 
spend our time together." — "Is it my place to ask you?pIt is 
you who ought to ask me to allow you to do it. Moreover during 
this whole week a boy accompanied me every day and even treated 
me with cakes." — "Who was this boy?" — "No, I won't tell 
you." — "You need not tell me, for it is easy enough to guess. 
I know that you have no boys except Mr. M. and only he could 
have accompanied you and offered you cakes. Now tell me, luve 
I not guessed right?" — "Yes, you have guessed, but what does 
it matter for you who accompanied me?" — "In fact it does not 

' They do not realize their meanness. The whole situation is so new (c/. 
p. 207, note i), that they have no norms to apply to it. The norms of chivalry 
are almost unknown in this class, and those which traditionally control the 
pre-conjugal relation cannot be applied. Therefore the primary attitude of 
jealousy manifests itself without any restraint. Moreover, as they conceive 
it, Mania is cheating them, and therefore she, and not the rival, is made the 
object of their vengeance. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 217 

matter, only you said yourself at the christening that he did not 
please you, and now you walk with him and evidently he pleases 
you. ' — "Does one walk only with persons with whom one is 
pleased? Why, I am not marrying him yet. And I confess 
sincerely that I did not want him to accompany me, but he refused 
to yield and asked me to allow him only to walk behind me and 
to look at my feet." When she said this I laughed aloud at her 
naivete and this confession. "Well, why do you laugh.?" she 
asked, "perhaps you think that I lie? I don't." And here she 
swore, saying: "As I love God, it is true." — "But I believe 
without your oath that your feet [or legs; the Polish word is the 
same for both] pleased him. But if he had seen them without 
shoes and stockings, as I did, they would have pleased him still 
more!" — "Oh, y«u are bad, my cousin. You ought not to 
mention it at all." — "Why nobody hears us, and we know it 
without mentioning. But never mind, speak on. Then you 
allowed him to follow you." — "No, I told him to go away and 
not to turn my head. I told him to go to the devil. But he 
would not have it and walked at my side, begging me not to be 
angry and to allow him to accompany me. What could I do? 
I thought: *Let him go' and I said nothing to him." — "Well, 
and what more? Where were you to eat cakes?" — "At St. 
Alexander Place." — "And he always accompanied you and 
bought cakes?" — "No, we ate cakes only three times, and on 
Monday and yesterday I did not see him at all." — "I believe you, 
cousin, but tell me, was this letter alsp from him which you refused 
to show me and burned in the stove?" — "I don't care whether 
you believe me or not. I would have shown you the letter, but 
Franus was there. Yes, this card was also from him, why should 
I deny that I received a card from him? It is not bad at all." — 
^'It is true that it is not bad, but I am a little jealous and I should 
prefer if you allowed me to accompany you rather than him." — 
"Have you .ever asked me or even mentioned it? Should I have 
asked you myself?" — "Well, all right. Tomorrow I shall wait 
for you. But I must kiss you for having confessed everything." 
With these words I began to kiss her hard. Although she cried 
out that I should disturb her hair I did not care, but kissed her 
till I had enough and only then I let her go.' 

' Mania's continued preference for Wladek, although the other man must 
have been more attractive and of a higher social position, and in spite of the 



2i8 THE POLISH PEASANT 

Now again my cousin had put me into trouble by her confession. 
I did not know what to do. Perhaps she told me all this only 
because I was noticed by them and she knew that I knew every- 
thing. But perhaps it was true that she told him to go to the 
devil, for I noticed that this was rather easy for her and I had 
heard those words from her more than once. But what could I 
do? I had to believe, even if it was not true. Nevertheless I 
did what I intended and I threw the post-card into the box. 

The next day before six I was near the shop where Mania 
worked and I walked up and down. Suddenly Mr. M. came 
from behind me and when he joined me he stretched out his hand 
saying: "Well Mr. W. you promised to call on me for books and 
I have not seen you. Why don't you come?" — "I have not 
time, I am almost always occupied in the evening and during the 
day I should not find you at home." — "Why not? I am always 
at home on Saturday afternoons. But what are you doing here?" 
— "I am waiting for my cousin, to accompany her home." — 
"And do you go there?" I laughed and said: "I do, almost 
every day, but yesterday we agreed that I should meet her habitu- 
ally, and therefore you find me here. And where are you going 
yourself?" — "To a companion, for we agreed to meet today." 
Saying this, he bade me goodbye and went away, inviting me 
once more to come to him for books. I waited until Mania came 
out, gave her my arm and we went home, without stopping for 
the good cakes. In this way I drove my rival away without 
struggle or anger. 

The next day I waited again for my cousin and accompanied 
her home. When we came Mania found the post-card which I 
had sent. She showed it to me. After reading it I burned it 
at once and asked Mania whether she would go to the randka. 
She answered that she would not go and would not meet him at 
all. "And if I invite you, will you go?" — "Yes," she answered 
without hesitation. "Well, then, hurry and prepare the supper 
for Franus, and we shall go." And we went, but not for the good 
cakes, as she called those at the coffee-house on St. Aleksander 

fact that the question of marriage was practically excluded in both cases, is a 
manifestation of the usual preference shown by girls for men of their own class, 
and this seems in turn dependent on the community of attitudes. A man of 
the higher classes seldom obtains any fundamental response from a proletarian 
girl. 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 219 

Place, but to the Grand Cafe where, according to our agreement, 
Pawel was to come. When we approached this coffee-house my 
cousin guessed where I was leading her and at first refused to 
enter, saying that she did not wish to meet Mr. Malicki. Finally 
I persuaded her, saying: "Why do you mind Mr. M.? We shall 
sit at another table." We went in, I asked for two cups of choco- 
late and cakes. When Pawel appeared I drew a bit of paper from 
my pocket and wrote upon it a few words, asking Pawel not to 
say anything, for she had confessed. He made big eyes without 
knowing what to think, but did not say a word about the post- 
card. We amused ourselves for an hour, accompanied her home 
and came back. Only then I related to Pawel what Mania had 
told me. "So we have nothing to do, since she has confessed 
everything," said Pawel. "This is a proof that she does not love 
him, so let us leave her in peace." 

The bakery was sold, so I was again without a place. But 
when I went to my master on the last day he told me that I could 
stay till Pentecost and help him. I had to go with the drivers 
who brought bricks and lime for the building of his new house. 
After five-thirty I was free until six the next morning. During 
these hours I mainly searched for work. I visited almost every 
day one or both hostelries, but both were full of bakers. My 
two weeks passed rapidly. On Saturday my master paid me, 
I bade him goodbye and thanked him. Pawei knew at what 
o'clock I was to leave and came to the station, bringing a big 
package as a gift for mother and smaller packages for the younger 
brothers and sisters. He asked me to tell our parents that he 
would not come until he was emancipated. After a kind goodbye 
from him I left the city of Lodz.' [The visit home is without 
incident. Spends the usual amount of time in the house of the 
teacher, and Mrs. D. continues to call him her "son-in-law." 
Stach does not get a better position and the other children help 
little.] I had 30 roubles with me, so once when my parents com- 
plained the most I took twenty from my pocket-book and gave 
them to my mother, saying, "This is for a dress for you." But 
mother laughed and showed me the rest of my brothers and sisters 
saying, "They have none either." 

'He does not even mention his farewell to Mania; evidently the girl 
dropped completely out of hit consciousness as soon as he ceased to see her. 



I 
I 



220 THE POLISH PEASANT 

Meanwhile a week passed and I began to feel bored with 
doing nothing. So I prepared to wander, although I had no 
idea in which direction I should go. Though not with joy, still 
I had to go, for here nothing was to be done. Finally two weeks 
after Pentecost, I left Bogusiawice, very sad, for how could I be 
merry? I was already somewhat acquainted with this wandering 
and I knew that I must stretch my hand out like a beggar in 
order to save my life. Lucus accompanied me for a long way 
and wept when we separated; I did the same. I went first to 
Klodawa and there asked all the bakers, but there was no work. 
I stayed over night in a bakery upon the stove, having as a bed 
some empty flour-sacks, but in the morning I could hardly recog- 
nize myself, I was so powdered with flour. I resolved not to 
sleep in bakeries any more, but always somewhere in a village, 
in a farmer's house. [Visits five other towns with no success and 
finally returns to Lodz. Goes to the "bungler-hospital," looks 
for work and does not show himself to Pawel or any of his ac- 
quaintances. After two months gets work for five weeks during 
the vacation of another workman. Saves thirty roubles, buys 
a new suit, etc., and is about to show himself to his friends, when 
his valise and new clothes are stolen.] 

My despair had no bounds. I wept, I searched, I informed 
the police, but nothing helped; they could not find it. In the 
beginning I suspected my companion and he suspected me. After 
some days of vain searching I ceased and loafed again about 
Lodz, without a place to sleep, without anything to eat. Seeing 
that I should not find my way in Lodz, I resolved to wander away, 
but I was unwilling to do it alone, so I began to persuade my 
companion in misfortune, whose suit was stolen with mine, to 
wander with me. He agreed. We took our passports from the 
police office and two days later we were already wandering in 
the direction of Warsaw. But we gave our word to each other 
that we would wander until we both found work in the same 
town. 

My companion's Christian name was Walek. I did not even 
know his family name, for everybody called him Walek. He 
was not much liked among his companions, for he kept company 
too much with smyruses and with maids who served in Jewish 
houses and fed him when he was without work. Moreover, he 
pretended to be very clever and boasted that he knew how to 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 221 

do everything. He played the part of gentleman, which did not 
suit him well, for he could neither read nor write. But he carried 
the best papers in his pocket and whenever he came to a hostelry 
he asked others to read them aloud, for which he treated them, 
if he had money, for he liked drinking very much. I did not 
pour the liquor behind my collar either [never refused], but I 
drank otherwise, for I never lost my reason in drinking. At 
this time I had no money at all to drink, and I was glad if any- 
body treated me. More than once I had even joined the smyruses 
just to eat and drink a little,' for there were many days when 
I was hungry, and the day was good on which I could buy a loaf 
of bread and half a pound of blood-sausage, drinking water from 
the well. I could have lived better if I had shown myself to Pawel, 
who certainly would have helped me. But I had not the courage 
and was ashamed because of my torn clothes. Being in such a 
position, I felt well with Walek, who knew better how to find a 
living, was bolder in asking anybody for something, pretending 
always to be satisfied with his condition. He was always whis- 
tling, while I was almost always weeping.' Not once, but thousands 
of times I cursed my life and the day on which I went to learn 
to be a baker. As to the girls, they had vanished long ago from 
my head. I had not shown myself to any cousin, and even if 
any of them saw me upon the street she did not recognize me, 
I looked so ugly. And as the proverb says, "For trouble the 
best remedy is drink," so it was with me. When I got tipsy 

' The habit of searching for work and the latent idea of respectability 
keep him from falling to the level of pauperism at this point. 

'The difference corresponds to the difference between original lack of 
organization and secondary disorganization. Walek's life was never organ- 
ized on any steady basis; therefore he does not measure his actual situation 
by any external standards of living, and feels relatively satisfied with it. This 
is the type of the so-called ''born*' vagabond, criminal, pauper. Wladek 
represents the type of man whose activities were organized, at least to a cer- 
tain extent, and who has dropped from his earlier level, because of an insuf- 
ficient organization, under the influence of unfavorable social conditions, or 
through alcoholism. He preserves for a time a superior standard and is 
unhappy as long as the ideas and habits corresponding with an organized life 
are not completely forgotten. This is the so-called ''socially produced" 
criminal, vagabond, pauper. In reality the primary attitudes may be the 
same, but in the one case they are partially opposed by socially acquired 
attitudes, in the other they are not. The distinction can therefore be reduced 
to that between lack of organization and actual disorganization. 



A.v. 



i 



222 TOE POLISH PEASANT 

I forgot for a moment about my misfortune and went to sleep 
somewhere upon the grass. So I was glad to have Walek's com- 
pany, for more than once he brought me something to eat from 
some cook, but neither he nor I had a penny. I took the linen 
which I had, wrapped it in a blue apron, tied it with a string, 
Walek did the same, and one morning we left Lodz, cursing it 
heartily. 

I won't describe all the cities and towns through which we 
passed, for nothing important happened there. [Arrived at Warsaw 
they are at a loss what to do, and ask a night-watchman where 
they can sleep. He directs them to the poor-asylum, but a tipsy 
socialist overhears and gives them supper and lodging.] When our 
benefactor was snoring pretty regularly I arose and said my 
prayer, for I never went to sleep without it, but I was ashamed to 
do it before our benefactor, for I knew from novels how such 
gentlemen look upon prayer. Even Walek laughed at me when 
I said my prayer, but I did not care at all for him and his laughter. 
After breakfast I received a necktie, for mine was not in a very 
good condition, and our benefactor gave me besides half a rouble, 
all the rolls and sausage which remained from the breakfast, and 
explained how to get out of Warsaw. We thanked him very 
warmly and left. 

We could do nothing in Warsaw, for there was no hostelry and 
no gtszynky and the bakers lived in private lodgings and searched 
for work as every one could [individually]. But we had no money 
to stay in Warsaw and to take a lodging. It was late already when 
we crossed a bridge to Praga, on the other side of the river. There 
we found on the comer of a street a sign: ** Petersburg Road," 
and thinking that it led to Russia, we resolved to go this way, 
having no idea where and through what towns the road led. 

[At Jablonna (frequented as a summer resort) there is work 
for one, and it is offered first to Wladek, but he holds to his agree- 
ment not to take work singly. But the master urges him to begin 
work, and he feels that this can be avoided only by running away. 
Walek goes to the shop for their bundles while Wladek waits at a 
certain point. Walek leaves his papers with Wladek as a guarantee 
that he will return, but accepts the work himself, and returns . 
with two smyruses and forces Wladek to give up his paper^ 
They went back to Jablonna but before they arrived they drop . pcd 
into a tavern. Meanwhile I stood helpless, with tears in my eyvci 



\ 



UFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 223 

from grief that Walek had acted so brutally toward me, and left 
me alone. Mr. Julian and his master had asked me first to stay, 
and I pitied Walek, while he could leave me without regret. But 
suddenly a thought quick as lightning flashed through my mind, 
to outdo Walek while there was still time and to stay myself for 
this work. Let him wander, since he is so good. And I passed 
from thought to act. I passed the tavern in which Walek sat 
with his companions without being seen by them, gave the master 
my papers, and he gave me half a rouble. Then I went to the 
bakery, undressed, took my apron and began to work. After 
awhile Walek came with his companions and what was his aston- 
ishment when he found me at work. [They want to beat Wladek 
but the master sends them to jail.] The next morning they were 
set free and came to the bakery. I had finished my work and was 
lying upon the bed, but Walek approached me and began to ask 
my pardon, and to beg me to go wandering with him again. But 
I would not even listen, for I had had one lesson from him already 
and he had shown me that he was not a good companion. I told 
him this and turned to the wall. Then Walek began to weep and 
kissed my hand, begging me to go with him. I was unmoved, but 
I gave him forty grosz and a few rolls and lay down to sleep, 
without talking with him any more. And thus finished my wan- 
dering with Walek. 

I spent my days in Jablonna merrily enough. Almost every 
day I made excursions either to the Vistula or to the forests of 
Count Potocki. I went in the evening habitually to one garden, 
where a student played the violin very beautifully and I liked to 
listen. At that time I got acquainted with a maid, a German, 
who served with some people from Warsaw and came with them 
for the summer. She was a very kind and pretty girl and she 
liked flirting very much. She often brought various cakes to be 
baked, and in this way we got acquainted, not only I, but Mr. 
Julian, for we became good friends and made all our trips together. 
Whenever we had time we went in the evening to the maid, for 
then she was also free and we could walk. Finally things went 
so far that we persuaded her to go with us after the season to 
Vilno, for Mr. Julian and I had decided that after the end of the 
season we would both wander there. Well, we persuaded her to 
go also and she agreed. 

After eight weeks the season was over and some people began 



224 THE POLISH PEASANT 

to return to Warsaw, so I was dismissed from work, while Mr. 
Julian was to work still for four days. I was waiting for him in 
Jablonna and spent all the time with the maid.- We had made 
an agreement that we would not foolish with her in Jablonna, 
but only in Vilno. We intended to take an apartment there and 
to go to work, while Mina — this was her name — would cook 
for us. In a word, we were to keep her as our common wife and 
she had agreed to it. But I did not like the part of the agreement 
that we should not foolish with her now, for I had much time and 
I could have used it well. But I would not break my word. Dur- 
ing these four days I spent whole nights with her [sicl] We went 
far beyond Jablonna, there we sat down upon the grass and Mina 
endeavored by all means to compel me to foolish, but I resisted 
the best I could. She called me an old woman, a bloodless fellow 
and many other names, and I had tc^'bi^^r all this. It happened 
that she lay upon me herself, tickling u \ and .bringing me thus 
to wrath. So it was every night during these four days, and I 
felt really sick, but held out. On the fourth day, when Mr. Julian 
was dismissed, we went to drink some beer and talked about 
Mina. I began to dissuade Julian from taking her with us. What 
should we do with her? We had not much money, and it was still 
a question whether we should find work in Vilno. It is true that 
Mina had, as she said, almost 70 roubles, but the journey would 
cost much, for she had a big trunk and a lot of bed clothes. More- 
over I pitied her greatly, for I was sure that we should waste 
everything she owned and leave her finally, and she would remain 
alone in a strange city without anything. It was a pity to bring 
disaster upon such a young and silly girl. Mina was nineteen 
years old, but without any experience, for really she must have 
been very silly to agree to something like this. Mr. Julian could 
not decide immediately to part with Mina, and said: *^What do 
I care? If we don*t find work in Vilno we shall leave her and go 
further. What troubles you? She has clothing enough and bed 
clothes; if necessary we can sell it slowly and live upon this." 
But I refused to agree with him and I had to use all my eloquence 
to persuade him that we did not need her at all. Finally I suc- 
ceeded, and Mr. Julian agreed with my proposition.' We decided 

' We may accept Wladek's statement of hU motives, but there is a curious 
contrast between the way in which he feels bound in his relations of com- 
panionship with Walek and Julian and the lack of any feeling of obligation 



1 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 225 

positively not to take her but not to tell her this either, simply to 
run away from Jablonna. When the evening came, we went to 
Mina and then all three of us took a walk beyond Jablonna, Mina 
said that she had everything ready, her passport and her salary, 
and she could spend this whole night with us, for she did not serve 
any more and was ours. So Mr. Julian took her by one arm, I 
by the other, and we went out of Jablonna and sat down at the 
edge of the forest. The night was warm and we resolved to spend 
it outside. Mr. Julian proposed to eat oyr supper there, and we 
all agreed. He went to buy something to eat and to drink, for 
which Mina gave the money. I was glad that he went away for 
I intended to foolish with Mina. I was no longer bound by my 
word. It was not difficult to do, for she was ready long ago and 
at last the moment came. Julian returned with a rather large 
package of food, a bo' *" vodka and three bottles of beer. We 
began to eat. A{ina « quite unceremonious with us and called 
us by name and when she got a little tipsy, she became very merry, 
calling us her husbands* ... At dawn we returned to a Jewish 
tea-house, which was open during the whole night. There we 
stayed till six in the morning, and the train was to leave at ten. 
Mina went to take her baggage on a cab to the station while we 
went to the bakery for our bundles. We decided to do thus: 
When Mina came we would amuse her with talking and when the 
second bell struck we would send her to the ticket-office to buy 
a ticket. Meanwhile we would hide in a car and before she found 
us, the train would move and she would remain. It was impossible 
to find any other arrangement. [This is carried out as planned.] 
Mina did not suppose, poor girl, that we would play her such a 
trick. But it was better for her to remain, for she had money 



toward the girl. He simply assumes that they will exploit her and leave her 
as a matter of course. This might be explained on the ground that the only 
binding relation with a woman is the familial one of marriage or blood con- 
nection. But as the solidarity Wladek manifests with regard to his compan- 
ions has not its source in traditional organization there must be another reason. 
It probably lies in the limitation of the relation of the girl to the sexual ele- 
ment, BO that all the attitudes that are able to give to this connection a moral 
character are left outside. The proportion of the feeling of obligation would 
then depend on the amount of social elements present in the relation with the 
other sex — none in a purely sexual connection like this one, relatively little 
in flirtation, it increases in the romantic and pre-conjugal stages, and reaches 
its highest form in the conjugal relation. 



226 TOE POLISH PEASANT 

and could find a place at any time, while if we had taken her, 
what awaited her? Misery to the last degree. And we should 
have had only reproaches of conscience for having pushed an 
inexperienced girl into the mud. While she had lost only a few 
zloty for the supper last night and for the cab today. This was 
nothing in comparison with what she would have lost in going 
with us, and she had had one more experience. Thus ended our 
flirtation with a maid in Jablonna. 

Julian and I came by the suburban railway to Warsaw. Julian 
had there a married sister, and we went to her, having together 
20 roubles. We had put our money into a common fund; we 
were to draw from it equally and to try to see that it was never 
exhausted. Julian persuaded me to buy an accordeon, for he 
knew, as he said, how to play very well. I had nothing against 
it, and we bought one for five roubles, and Julian really played 
very well. We spent a whole week with his sister, walking about 
Warsaw and looking at her beauties. On Monday of the next 
week we started "per pedes Apostolorum'* to Vilno. 

[Three weeks wandering through small towns, living on gisxynk 
and sometimes lodged by peasants, but doing very poorly.] Once 
when we were resting near a manor-farm and planning to enter 
the next village toward evening my companion drew out his 
accordeon and began to play. When he had played a few pieces 
a small boy came out from the manor-house bearing upon a plate 
two big pieces of bread and 40 grosz of money, which he gave us. 
We were very much astonished at this help for which we did not 
ask. Probably some merciful lady thought that we were playing 
before her house in order to beg in this way, and gave us the alms, 
for which we were very grateful to her. But suddenly a splendid 
idea flashed through my mind, and I shared it with Julian. "Do 
you know? now we shan't suflFer hunger any more." — "How is 
that?" — "Well, if you will you can play before every one of the 
many houses we pass on our way, and they will give us to eat, and 
perhaps even a few grosz. Is not my advice good? Here nobody 
knows us, we have trouble, we ought to try not to die of hunger.*' 
He promised to try tomorrow, although he was very much ashamed. 
Meanwhile the evening came and we went to the village for shelter. 

The next day we started on, looking about us for a place to 
play. Thus we came to the house of a railroad section-boss and 
I told my companion to play. And he did well, for we received 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 227 

bready milk and 20 grosz in cash. This made him bolder and he 
played with more confidence before the following houses. And 
our condition grew better at once. We were never hungry and 
every day almost half a rouble was added to our fund. If we saw 
any buildings, even farther aside from the railroad, I remained 
with our bundles and he went to play, and he always had some 
profit; at least 4 grosz and even a zloty often fell into our hands. 
As soon as he began to play, boys and girls gathered around and 
listened to the music. Finally some one of them, bolder than the 
others, always invited us to go to the house and play there. We 
did it without hesitation, and then it always went well. We got 
for supper bacon with eggs and a good breakfast in the morning, 
and we slept in the house. In this manner we came to Grodno. 
But it was late and we delayed our entrance into the city until 
the next day. We sat down near the garden of a section-boss, 
but it was some superior one, for the house was nicer and the 
garden bigger than usual. As we learned later, it was indeed a 
dziesietnik [inspector, having ten hands under him]. My com- 
panion began to play the accordeon, but only as for himself. 
Suddenly a young and rather handsome man appeared. When 
he came to the fence he leaned against it and listened. When my 
companion finished playing, the stranger began to talk with us. 
He inquired where we were going and who we were. We said that 
we were sculptors [stone-cutters] from Warsaw and were going to 
Vilno in search of work. Finally he asked us whether we would 
not eat something, and when we answered that we would, for 
when traveling it could not be despised, he told us to enter the 
garden and led us to a nice arbor where he invited us to sit down 
and asked us which milk we preferred, sweet or sour. We said 
sweet, so he went to the house and after awhile came back saying 
that his sister would bring the luncheon at once. During the 
conversation we learned that he was a printer and worked in 
Vilno. There he married and after a year his wife died and now 
he was staying for some time with his parents in order to forget 
[cease to grieve] about his wife. But evidently he had not for- 
gotten her, for when he told us this, he cried. We tried to persuade 
him that there was no reason to cry now, for crying would not 
bring his wife back from the other world. Then his sister came, 
bringing bread, butter, cheese and milk. When we had eaten he 
brought his violin and played a little. Meanwhile the sun was 



228 THE POLISH PEASANT 

setting and we had to bid him farewell in order to search for a 
night-shelter. When we arose he asked us whether we were going 
away. "Well, we must, because we have to find a night-shelter, 
for night is coming." — "Please wait a little, I shall ask my father; 
perhaps he will let you stay over night. For I must tell you that 
the section-bosses are forbidden to keep strangers over night, but 
perhaps my father will make an exception for you when I ask him." 
[Remain over night.] The next day after breakfast we wanted to 
leave, but they refused to let us go and invited us to stay with 
them for a few days and to rest. We spent thus a whole week 
doing nothing. We angled, went shooting in the forest near by, 
read books, of which our friend had enough, and the week passed 
rapidly. They wanted to keep us longer, but we refused positively 
and wandered on, bidding goodbye to these good and hospitable 
people. They gave us a food supply for the journey, and our 
friend accompanied us for a long way, almost to Grodno. 

In Grodno, as in so many other towns, we found no work, 
although we did not omit a single baker. Thence we went in the 
direction of Vilno, again along the railroad-line. My companion 
played the accordeon whenever he could, so we suffered no hunger 
and we had a few grosz. In one village where a shoemaker lived 
we had our shoes repaired. Thus, without any important advent- 
ures, we came to the neighborhood of Vilno and searched for night- 
shelter. We found bad people who refused to admit us into the 
house at all but told us at once to go to the barn, and sent us there 
cold potatoes and a bowl of sour milk. We did not eat the pota- 
toes, but we began to eat the milk. But hardly had I taken the 
third spoonful when I found an enormous spider. I looked at my 
companion, whose attention at this moment was turned in another 
direction, and threw the spider away. Then I said that I did 
not want to eat any more, and my companion finished the milk. 
We slept very badly, and early in the morning we went to Vilno. 
But there again we found no work. When we finished visiting 
the bakeries, it was evening and we found night-shelter in a Jewish 
bakery, where a Polish journeyman worked. We had indeed 6 
roubles, but we were afraid to spend money, for we did not know 
what awaited us. The next day we went to mass in the chapel of 
God's Mother of Ostra Brama [image reputed miraculous] and 
after the mass intended to go further in the direction of Riga. 
But we met upon the street a few bakers whom we recognized 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 229 

from their clothes, powdered with flour. We approached, greeted 
them in our manner and asked them whether they knew anything 
about any work. But they were ^thout work, like us. They 
asked us where we intended to go. We said that we were going to 
Riga, and there we should see what to do later. But they began 
to dissuade us strongly from going in this direction, for there we 
should find no work, and the winter was near. ''Go rather in 
the direction of Kpwno, there you may profit better." We agreed 
that they were right and started to Kowno, but only the next 
day. We spent this night again in the Jewish bakery upon the 
oven. I was really tired of this wandering and I should have been 
glad to work anywhere, at least for a few weeks. But since we 
had left Warsaw we had found absolutely no work. Our feet 
ached badly from continual walking, for although we never made 
more than fifteen wiorsta a day and sometimes even less, still we 
had blisters upon our feet, and we soaked them in water wherever 
we found it. So I did not want to leave Vilno, but I had to. 

When we went out of the town we met three girls who were 
going in the same direction. We began to talk with them, and 
we learned that they were going to Kalwarya, to a festival. Each 
girl carried a rather large basket with zakqskij so when we reached 
a small forest, we sat down to rest, the girls took out their food 
and treated us, and my companion played the accordeon in return. 
We parted in Kalwarya. There were two bakers here, but they 
needed no journeymen. We started on, but now it began to get 
worse. It rained hard, we got quite wet, and thus we came to a 
village rather late and could find no shelter. The people did not 
understand Polish, and we knew no Lithuanian. We went from 
house to house, but nobody wanted to admit us, and we left the 
village quite wet and cold. Happily, beyond the village was a 
single farm, and there we were admitted. But there was no fire 
in the stove, and so we went without supper to the bam, in which 
there was not much straw either, but at least it did not rain upon 
our heads. We slept, closely pressed to each other. The next 
day it rained again and we could not go far, for we tried to shelter 
ourselves from the rain. We were hungry as dogs, for in the rain 
my companion could not play, and even if he could there was 
nobody for whom to play. We met nothing but poor villages, 
and whenever my companion took out his accordeon before a 
house he was at once driven away without being given anything. 



230 TOE POLISH PEASANT 

They said something in Lithuanian, which we could not under- 
stand. And so we wandered for some ten or fifteen days, not 
along the railroad, but along a highway. Our fund began again 
to be exhausted, and misery looked into our eyes. Moreover it 
was autumn and it rained almost every day. And more than once 
I cried bitterly. 

Once it began to rain hard about noon. We could not travel, 
so we sat down under a bam, waiting for the rain to pass, but we 
waited in vain. An old Lithuanian came out of a cabin which 
stood behind the bam and noticed us sitting under the bam, and 
completely wet. He approached and began to talk Lithuanian, 
but we did not answer, for we understood nothing. Then he 
began to talk Russian, and I knew this language well. He asked 
us why we were sitting here instead of going into his house. I 
answered that we were waiting for the rain to stop and we did 
not enter the house for we were not sure of being admitted. Then 
he inquired whence we came and where we were going. We lied 
as much as we could in order to dispose him favorably. Finally 
he invited us to his house. . 

In the house, O my God! dirt, darkness! The snioke pricked 
our eyes, for there was no chimney at all and the smoke which 
came from the clay stove filled the room and got outside through 
the windows and doors. The walls in the room were as black as 
soot. There was no bed, only a double wooden shelf; upon the 
higher shelf the parents slept, upon the lower the children. When 
it got dark they did not light any lamp, for they had none, only 
if some light was needed the housewife drew a piece of burning 
wood from the stove, and the sharp smoke pricked our eyes. We 
exchanged not a word with anybody except the host, for nobody 
understood either Russian or Polish. And the host himself was 
not very talkative. So we sat upon a bench, my companion and 
I, from time to time going outside to breathe some fresh air. 
When the supper was ready, a bench was drawn to the middle of 
the room and soup was poured into a single big bowl. We were 
invited to eat with them and given wooden spoons and a big piece 
of bread each. The bread was baked of flour ground at home in 
a stone mill and black like the holy earth. The soup was some- 
thing like a cucumber soup, for bits of raw and unpeeled cucumber 
swam in it, but my companion and I, we could not eat it although 
we were very hungry. First, it tasted very bad, and then there 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 231 

were some snivelling and dirty children who ate very indecently. 
A cat nibbed herself against our legs, and the children beat her 
with their spoons and afterwards dipped these spoons back into 
the bowl. Such was the order in our hospitable host's house! 
But even thus we were thankful to him, for we could dry ourselves 
a little and we ate a big piece of bread each, and this meant some- 
thing also. 

The second week was nearing its end since we had left Vilno. 
We had only one rouble altogether, and it was still far to Kowno 
and the walking hard, for the road was muddy. On Sunday 
afternoon we came to a large and rather nice village at the begin- 
ning of which was a big manor-house surrounded with a beautiful 
garden. I began to persuade my companion to play, for he had 
lately lost all wish to play; because everywhere he was driven away. 
Now I succeeded in persuading him, but with difficulty; the 
hunger which we both suffered helped my persuasion. He went, 
and I reminded him to ask rather for food than for money, for 
there was no place to buy any food. I soon heard him begin to 
play, and sat down waiting for the result. When he had played 
two pieces there was silence. I thought that he was driven away 
again and expected him to come, but for a long time he was not 
to be seen. I was curious and rose to go and see what had hap- 
pened, and to help him if he needed help. But then I saw a 
butler in livery coming in my direction. He asked me: *^Are 
you the companion of the man who played the accordeon?" — 
"Yes." — "Then come with me." I followed him. He led me 
to the kitchen where my companion was already sitting at a table 
upon which there was enough of everything — boiled meat, 
roasted meat, a good soup. Toward the end of the dinner a girl 
brought two glasses of beer which we had to drink with pauses, 
they were so big. When we had finished eating the girls asked 
us to play, and began to dance. More and more girls came and 
all of them danced. There was also the farm-manager and the 
farm-clerk, the butler, the chambermaid, some young drivers and 
manor-maids, and they all danced as much as they could. Finally 
the proprietor himself came with his wife and two girls, one fifteen 
and the other thirteen years old. When he came in all the dancers 
stopped and rushed into the comers, but he told them not to 
interrupt their dancing, and approached me, for my companion 
was playing. He was in the uniform of a Russian officer, but I 



232 THE POLISH PEASANT 

could not yet recognize what rank he held. I arose in order to 
show my respect, but he told me to sit down and began to inquire 
who we were and why we were traveling. I was afraid to lie 
for he could have asked me to show our papers, so I told the truth 
and related to him about our journey and its aim. He sympathized 
much with us, but could not help us. Finally he asked whether 
I knew how to dance. I answered that I did not, for how could 
I think about dancing in my present condition? Moreover my 
shoes hardly hung upon my feet. But my companion said that 
I could dance, and the proprietor, without listening to my explana- 
tions ordered me to dance the oberek which I danced well enough. 
So in order to satisfy him I went to dance with his older daughter 
who danced willingly and not badly. After the oberek I danced 
a waltz with the younger daughter, lihe proprietor applauded, 
and then went with his family into the garden, while I sat down 
again. Thus, amusing ourselves rather merrily for wanderers, 
we did not even notice how the evening approached and it was 
time to think about night-shelter. Perhaps this lord would have 
allowed us to sleep somewhere, but we did not dare to ask him 
and prepared to leave. They gave us again a supper before 
starting and wrapped many various meats into paper and gave 
us these with half a loaf of bread for our journey. The proprietor 
sent us, through his younger daughter, money wrapped in paper, 
separately for each of us. We thanked the little lady nicely, bade 
goodbye to the chambermaid and butler and started, for the sun 
was already very low. 

We did not ask for shelter in the same village, for there were 
some buildings to be seen not far away. When we drew nearer 
we saw that it was not a village but a single cottage with. garden 
and farm-buildings, a so-called ^^hutor.^* Usually it was I who 
went to ask for shelter, for I knew how to speak Russian and I 
imitated the long Lithuanian accent. Here I went also to ask, 
but I did not need to go inside, for a young girl stood upon the 
threshold. I approached, drawing my hat off while I was still 
^ few steps away. Although she was a country girl, she did not 
run away as others did, but listened to my request, and then said, 
with a marked Lithuanian accent: "All right, wait a little. I 
will go and ask my father." After awhile an aged but powerfully 
built Lithuanian, with a big pipe between his teeth, came out and 
asked me whether I wanted night-shelter. When I said yes, he 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 233 

said: ** Please call your companion and come in, for when the guest 
comes into the house God comes into the house'' [old Polish 
proverb]. I called my companion, and the Lithuanian led us 
into a room beautifully furnished, not in the Lithuanian way. 
He asked us to sit upon a sofa, sat down with us, offered us tobacco 
to make cigarettes and we talked of the news in the world, where 
we had been, what we had seen — in a word, we found a very 
talkative and good Lithuanian to whom I wish long health for 
his goodness and hospitality. After awhile his wife and daughter 
came, for he had no other children, and I saw that he loved his 
only daughter deeply. His wife and daughter were not worse 
than their husband and father. The daughter's name was Marya, 
and she was a very pretty little Lithuanian, talkative and sym- 
pathetic. When we had talked enough about various matters, 
Marya asked my companion to play the accordeon. He did it 
immediately and played several pieces. And before we had the 
time to look many young people came into the room. And I 
don't know whence they came, for as far as we noticed there was 
neither village nor cottage near. They began to talk among them- 
selves of dancing a little, but nobody dared to begin. From this 
it can be concluded that the old Lithuanian enjoyed consideration 
and respect in the neighborhood. Finally some bolder boy, proba- 
bly the son of a farmer, approached the old Lithuanian and kissed 
his hand, asking him for permission to dance a little. The old 
man laughed and gave the permission, and the dance began. I 
also made a few turns with Marya, for she pleased me much, but 
soon she disappeared and I did not dance any more. I asked the 
old man where she was gone. He answered that she went to help 
her mother. 

The old man continually treated me with tobacco and led the 
conversation. I inquired also about Lithuanian customs and he 
related to me in detail about them, and I learned from him many 
various things. Thus we amused ourselves for almost three hours. 
Then the old man whispered me to tell my friend to stop playing 
and to (Tome to supper. I told him this. He put the accordeon 
upon the sofa and we followed the old man through two rooms, 
also nicely furnished, into the third, which was a kitchen, large 
and clean. In the middle stood a table, covered with a clean 
table-cloth woven with various designs, and covered with plates. 
There were eggs fried upon bacon, freshly baked fierogi [cake filled 



234 THE POLISH PEASANT 

with meat, cabbage, mushrooms, etc.], bliny [flat fried cakes of 

buckwheat, oats or potatoes], fruit, bread, dry sausage — in a 

word, nothing was lacking. For a long, a very long time I have 

not seen a table so dressed. Our old man said: '^Please sit down 

and eat what God gave, for, * What the house is rich in, it is glad 

[to offer].'' When we sat down, the old man crossed himself, 

we did the same and began to eat. But all that stood upon the 

table did not decrease much, for there was too much, and we were 

not very hungry, for we had filled our stomachs pretty well in the 

lord's house, thinking that we should go to sleep without supper, 

as often happened. After supper we returned into the first room, 

where the dancers were still waiting for us, and soon dancing 

began again, but it did not last very long, for at ten o'clock the 

old man drove all the people away. He led us to a separate and 

very decent room in which we were to sleep, but not both in one 

bed. I slept upon a sofa and my companion upon a bed. There 

were many pillows upon both of them, and feather covers. The 

bed linen was fresh and white. The old man asked us whether 

it would suit us to sleep here and said: ^'If you lack anything, 

please say so." But what could we lack? We answered that we 

were well satisfied. He shook hands with us and went out. When 

we were left alone, we began to inspect our beds, which seemed 

too clean for us. To tell the truth, we did not dare to lie down 

for we were not sure whether we had not some little "Egyptian 

rams" [lice]. During our wandering about the world they might 

easily have been bred, and we did not want to bring any to a house 

of such a good and hospitable host. So without hesitation we 

unbound our bundles and took fresh linen which we had washed 

ourselves. It was not washed very properly, for in cold water and 

without soap, but at least there were no lice. We changed our 

linen and lay down. We slept like kings. I could not remember 

when I had slept so well, nor could my companion. We said our 

prayers and fell immediately asleep. When we awoke we found 

a wash-bowl, a pitcher of water, a towel, and even a comb. We 

regretted leaving such a comfortable bed, for we did not know how 

long we should have to wait for another like it. As soon as we 

had dressed and washed the old man came to say good morning 

and asked us how we had slept. Instead of answering, we began 

to thank him very much for so comfortable a lodging. He asked 

us whether we were ready for breakfast, and told us to follow him. 



i 



UFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 235 

We wanted to take our bundles, but he did not allow us, saying: 
''Let them remain, you may take them later." The breakfast 
was no less copious than the supper. After breakfast we wanted 
to bid the hospitable old man goodbye, but he would not listen 
and said that he had bread enough to treat us for a few days. 
He asked us to rest a little in his house. In the beginning we 
hesitated a little, but in our souls we were very glad to get some 
relief, and finally we stayed four days more with the old man. 
He led us about his whole farm and showed us his riches, saying 
that he would give all this to his future son-in-law. Here I 
thought that it was a pity that I did not live nearer, for it would 
have been worth while courting both the well-educated Marya 
and her dowry. Alas! ''The sausage is not for the dog," and the 
daughter of the old and rich Lithuanian was not for me. 

In the evenings the old man related to us about Lithuania, 
and I told him stories from the books which I had read. Some- 
times I began to tell him something which he had also read and 
then we discussed the questions of this book we praised or blamed 
its heroes, etc. And thus four days passed pleasantly and rapidly. 
We regretted to leave such good people, but alas! we could not 
remain there always. On Thursday we left the house of the old 
Lithuanian, with stores of food and our pockets full of fruit. 

Hardly did we come outside of this hospitable neighborhood 
when we met the farm-manager of that good lord who had treated 
us. The manager was riding and paid no attention to us. Never- 
theless, my companion took his hat off and saluted him almost to 
the earth. But the manager pretended not to see it and rode 
further. I began to abuse my companion for greeting such a 
brutal man, who did not even deign to return the greeting. We 
quarreled and did not talk to each other. In such a state, a 
few days later, we approached Kowno. He remained in the 
country and I went to the town, and since then we have never 
met again in our life. It is difficult to judge who was right. The 
cause of our separation was that manager, who appeared upon 
our way like an evil spirit. My companion tried to prove that 
he did not notice his greeting, while I said that he would not 
return the greeting to such tramps as we were. And thus we had 
quarreled for four days. But near Kowno we divided the food 
which was left, he took the accordeon and I the money, of which 
there was almost three roubles. We shook hands and parted. 



236 THE POLISH PEASANT 

as I said above. And we were both such fools that neither would 
propose a reconciliation. 



In Kowno I spent the night in a Turkish bakery, but I found 
no work and wandered in the direction of Suwalki. Tears were 
my steady companionship. And there was reason enough to 
cry, for almost from every door I was driven away. I traveled 
through a country where most of the villages were inhabited 
by the peasant nobility, those who had the proverb in old 
times: ''A cottage nobleman is equal to a tvojetooda*^ But I 
shall never speak well of them. Instead of '^nobles" it would 
be better if they called themselves ''brutals." When I happened 
to get into a village where such a nobility lived — God forbid! 
It never happened that any one of them would keep me over 
night; they always said: "This is a village of nobility; it is 
forbidden to stay over night.'' If any one of them had given me 
at least a bit of bread! It was fortunate for me that there were 
also not nobles, and these gave me something. Else I should have 
had to die from hunger among the peasant nobility.' But I held 
out through all this and arrived at Suwalki. [In Grajewo finds 
work at 2 roubles a week and begins to think of clothes and girls. 
Goes with another young baker] and he showed me where every 
girl lived. Finally I bought an overcoat and shoes, and agreed 
with my companion to go to the girls, but in the following way. 
He was to go first, and I was to follow him after an hour, pre- 
tending to seek him. Then he was to introduce me. He went 
first, and I walked a little around the market-place and then 
entered the house. A woman asked me what I wanted, but I had 
no time to answer her when my companion, recognizing me by 
my voice, came into the vestibule. We pretended that we had 
not seen each other on this day, talked for a while in the vestibule 

■ The peasant nobility had the same political rights as the other nobility, 
but socially its position was little above that of the free peasants. It con- 
sequently tries by all means to isolate and differentiate itself from the other 
peasants. As there is little or no difference of fortune, instruction, etc., 
this is the only means of keeping its alleged superiority, since the political 
privileges have disappeared. There may be a political reason also, since the 
peasant nobility of Lithuania had participated in all the uprisings against 
Russia and was afraid of spies. 



1 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 237 

and then he led me into the room, turned to two girU who sat 
sewing at the table, saying loudly: ''I introduce/' and then sat 
down, while I remained at the door, for I never had seen or heard 
such an introduction. My companion, knowing so well how to 
behave [irony], made a fool of me, for really I looked like a fool 
standing there near the door and not knowing how to act. Finally 
I understood the situation, approached the girls, and extended 
my hand to them. I did not stay long, I did not even sit down, 
and I left saying that I had no time to stay longer today. The 
girls must have known already about my visit for they tried to 
keep me longer and knew who I was. But I could not stay for I 
was awfully ashamed that I let my companion make such a monkey 
of me, so I left promising to stay longer another time. But this 
was my first and last visit.' 

Once my master was helping me in my work. It was late at 
night and his son had not yet come home. The master closed all 
the doors so that his son could not get in otherwise than through 
the bakery. About one o'clock the good son returned. His 
father began to scold him. As long as his face was turned toward 
his son, the latter stood humble, but as soon as his father turned 
away the boy made various gestures which were very insulting 
to his father. I could not look at it without aversion, and when 
it was repeated a few times I gave the master to understand that 
he should turn rapidly around. He did it and saw with his own 
eyes what his son was doing. Then he gave him a good beating, 
during which he said that it was I who told him to look around. 
As soon as his father let him go, the boy threatened me with his 
fist, saying: "Wait, cholera, I won't forgive you this." It is 
true that I did not fear him very much, but I never liked to have 
enemies near me,' and I reproached my master for having told it. 

' Exhibition of the importance of social formalism, particularly among the 
lower classes. The awkward behavior of his friend deprives Wladek of the 
only form of beginning social relations with which he is acquainted. Thus 
the importance and rigidity of social forms are proportionate to their poverty 
and definiteness. The aristocracy is reputed to be the most formal class, 
but there the forms are so numerous and flexible that one well acquainted 
with them finds a socially sanctioned form in every situation. The awkward- 
nets of the parvenu results from his adhesion to some particular forms. 

' An expression of the desire for social response in its negative form. Not 
the consideration of the danger of having enemies but the unpleasantness of 
meeting hostile attitudes is the main factor of harmony in a primary group. 



238 THE POLISH PEASANT 

''Well, it slipped unintentionally. But I think you are not 
afraid of him." — ''I am not afraid, but nevertheless it is not 
nice of you to have told it and I regret that I advised you to turn 
around, for now he will try to avenge himself. Well, it is done." 
About this time my master's cousin came — Mr. Aleksander, 
whose parents lived also in Grajewo. He came very often to the 
bakery and we became friends, for he was not at all older than I, 
but very serious. He was preparing himself to be an officer. 
When I finished my work, I went usually to his room and we 
learned together, that is, he learned [aloud] and I listened, putting 
various questions, which he explained to me. And I learned 
much from him in matters of astronomy, geometry, arithmetic 
and geography. He tried also to explain to me some physics, 
but I could not grasp it.' Once we talked about girls, of whom 
he knew many in Warsaw. So we resolved to write letters, each 
to his girl, and to see which of us would get an answer sooner. I 
wrote a letter to Lubotyfi, to Kazia, and he to Warsaw. In my 
letter I wrote that even if the hell's gates should divide us, I 
would tear theiA open and get her.' Here I must mention that 
since I left Boguslawice, I had written no letters to my parents 
and had had no news from them. Only from Suwalki I wrote a 
letter to my brother Aleksy asking him to send me a passport, for 
the yearly period of the one which I had was ended. Aleksy 
sent me the passport and wrote a short letter in which he abused 
me much, calling me a tramp, a scamp, etc. But what could I 
do? I did not wander for my pleasure; may God guard my worst 
enemy from such a pleasure! I was obliged to tramp for the sake 
of bread. And how many tears it cost me when I thought that 
all my brothers sat in warm rooms and had enough to eat and 
where to sleep, while I was beaten by wind and rain, hungry, 
driven by strangers from house to house in search of a night- 

* This kind of unsystematic knowledge has certainly helped to develop 
Wladek's self-conceit. In general the excessive pride of self-taught men, 
which we shall find typically in Vol. IV, is due to two causes — the difiiculty 
they had in acquiring knowledge makes them appreciate it highly subjectively, 
and the lack of systematization allows them to notice only what they know 
without being aware of the whole region of science beyond their knowledge; 
for only when science is assimilated in the form of a system or plurality of 
sjrstems the vastness of its field can be realized. 

■ This outburst is probably imitated from the extravagant novels to which 
he subscribes in parts, and is a device to produce a quick response. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRA^^^ 239 

shelter. Could this be called a pleasure? So I preferred not to 
write to anybody, lest I should hear the same as from Aleksy. 
I soon received Kazia's answer, even sooner than Mr. Aleksander 
received his. The letter was as sentimental as mine. Kazia 
wrote that the school was burned and a new building was built 
of burned brick and much larger [etc.]. 

Meanwhile our apprentice became more and more sleepy every 
day, and when he worked with me he nodded from the beginning 
of the work like a Jew at prayer. But as soon as the work was 
over he ran out to loaf, either to coast or to throw snowballs at 
the passengers. And so it was every day. I did not want to 
beat him lest he should run away again. Moreover, I was indul- 
gent, for when I was a boy myself I liked to loaf, but I was not 
sleepy. And misery would beat him enough later on and was 
beating him even now, for there was an awful misery in his parents' 
home. His mother refused to accept any money from me for 
washing in order that I might better teach her son, but I did not 
permit it and always left her dues upon the table. I threatened 
Stefan, I begged him, I promised him finally to give him a good 
licking, but this did not help much. I gave him even to under- 
stand that he should leave the baker's work and learn something 
else. I related my wanderings and lack of work, I showed him 
those old and ragged bakers who sometimes wandered through 
Grajewo and some of them stayed over night in our bakery. But 
it made no impression upon him. Moreover he knew neither how 
to write nor read; I even begged him to learn and gave him once 
twenty grosz to buy a primer. He bought it, it is true, but he 
did not learn. How often Mr. Aleksander tried to persuade him 
to learn! But even this helped nothing. Finally I lost patience 
with him and went to complain to his mother. The mother told 
me to beat him if he deserved it, only to make a man of him. I 
advised his mother also to apprentice him to something else, but 
she did not want to take the trouble, and so things remained. 
Now, if Stefan nodded at night during the work, I often gave him 
a fillip. Then again I gave him a slight stroke with the dough, 
and so it went on. For if he had only nodded — well, never 
mind. But when he was sleepy, he spoiled my work. When he 
had to put the rolls upon a board, he put them in a single heap, and 
I was forced to make them over.' 

' All this is evidently said in justification of his subsequent behavior. 



240 THE POLISH PEASA^^^ 

Thus things went on until there was a fair in Grajewo. Four 
weeks were left until Christmas. We had very much work, so 
the master came to help us. I warned Stefan not to sleep, at 
least in the master's presence, and not to spoil the dough, for it 
was a shame for me to allow him to do it. We shall see how he 
listened. When we began to make the rolls, there was no help 
from Stefan at all. As usual, he put them into a heap and spoiled 
them, and the master laughed at me for allowing the boy to do it. 
The master stood at the right and I at the left of the boy. Finally, 
after a few fillips and strokes with the dough — and when this 
did not help — I got very angry, stepped back and struck Stefan 
upon the face with all my strength, with the palm of my hand. 
The stroke was so unfortunate that I drew air into his ear [jtV!]. 
Stefan, although he was sixteen years old, fell down upon the 
master, who said: "Well, you have given him too much." I 
took water and poured it on Stefan's face, for I felt a great pity 
for him, but the harm was done. When he arose blood began to 
drop from his nose and water from his ear. He sat down and 
began to cry, without doing anything, but I did not care for his 
help. I hastened to do my work and his, being in a great fright, 
for water did not cease to trickle from his ear. When morning 
came, Stefan went to his mother and with her to a surgeon-assis- 
tant, who came with them both to my master in order to write a 
report and to sue me before a court. For, as the surgeon said, 
the membrane was broken in Stefan's ear and it would cost much 
to cure him, and I was to pay for it. But all this was done secretly, 
that I might know nothing, for Stefan even came back to the 
bakery, as if nothing had happened. [Advised by the master to 
run away.] I was very angry with Stefan and with myself — 
with him for having brought me to this, that I was obliged to 
strike him. Of course I did not mean to strike him so hard, and 
then, could I have expected such results? And then I was angry 
with myself, for why did I strike him? Would it not have been 
better to leave him in peace? Then I could have worked as long 
as I wanted, while now? Cold, snow, and I must wander and 

The hoy was somewhat subnormal, at least physically, as the result of under- 
feeding, and Wladek's impatience grows as he compares him with himself 
as he was during his apprenticeship. This measuring others by the standard 
of one's own personality is a source of self-righteousness, particularly in view 
of the tendency to idealize one's own personality. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 241 

tramp from town to town until I find work again. And shall I 
find it? This was still a big question, for if in the summer there 
was none, what about the winter, when everybody tries to keep 
his work as best he can? But what could I do, poor fellow? 
Remain and sit in prison? This did not please me, for I had never 
been in prison. No, this was not good either; I preferred to 
wander. And again I began to curse this dear baker's work. For 
what shall I come to? I thought. Perhaps I should be obliged 
to tramp thus about the worid during my whole life. Really, 
if I had had a bottle of vodka at this moment, I would have drunk 
like a sw[ine] in order to forget at least for a moment my situation. 
I was not a drunkard and I had had no [strong] liquor in my mouth 
since we had drunk with the maid in Jablonna. But tomorrow 
I promised to treat myself. 

[Hires a sleigh and runs away, to the neighboring Szczuczyn. 
Wanders to Lom£a, then to Flock. Half frozen, full of self pity, 
thinks of home, and wanders thither to his parents. The trip 
takes about two weeks and leads through a number of towns. 
Reaches Boguslawice on Christmas eve.] When I approached 
Lubotyfi, it was rather dark and I could pass without attracting 
the attention of my acquaintances. But passing near the house 
of my brother-in-law, I looked through the windows and the sight 
made me cry. I saw a Christmas tree nicely dressed, a table 
covered with white cloth, and plates put upon it. Then I knocked 
loudly at the window and went away, crying. When I passed 
near the school I noticed that my brother Stach and the brother 
of my brother-in-law came out from Mr. D.'s house. But I 
did not let them recognize me. I only felt still more grieved, and 
crying, with downcast head, I went to Boguslawice. For really, 
I had reason enough to cry, thinking about myself and my family. 
No one of my family even thought how much I had suffered since 
Pentecost, how much hunger and cold I had borne, while they 
were sitting in warm rooms and well fed. But what do they care, 
even relatives, if their own brother suffers there, in the far world, 
hunger and misery, provided they don*t feel it themselves? Toward 
my mother I was bolder, and thus now, leaving my sister aside, 
I hastened to my mother, in order to weep before her and to 
complain about my misery.' 

' The whole attitude toward his family — desire to show himself only in 
a decent state, expectation of being treated as a tramp, etc., — - shows a com- 



242 THE POLISH PEASANT 

I knew well the custom of my parents, that there was always 
one cover too many on Christmas eve, so I would take it.' I 
was also sure that before the first star they would not begin to 
eat« Soon I stood under the window of my parents' home. When 
I looked in I saw them sitting already at supper, I looked up 
and saw not one, but thousands of stars. ^^So I am late," I 
thought, but I did not care to knock at once. Standing there 
under the window, I heard mother say rather loudly: ''Where 
does our Wladek eat supper today?'' I did not hear anything 
more, for I cried aloud, and then I fell upon the earth and lost 
consciousness, either from all these thoughts which pressed them- 
selves into my head, or perhaps from exhaustion, for I had had 
nothing in my mouth since morning. I don't know how long I 
lay there, and it would have been better for me not to rise any 
more. But I rose and looked again into the window. Nothing 
was changed; evidently, occupied with themselves, they did not 
' hear me behind the window. My head ached terribly. I must 
have struck it in falling down. I did not look any longer, but 
knocked at the window, 'which roused everybody. . • . When the 
inquiries were over and I had washed myself, mother began to 
prepare the supper for me, saying: ''It is a pity that you did not 
come a little earlier, we should have sat down to supper together." 
— "Never mind, I saw you eating and did not want to disturb 
you." — "And where were you?" asked father. — "Behind the 

plete change in the character of the family. The latter has really become 
an equivalent of the community. The individual attitude to which it cor- 
responds is the desire for recognition, not the desire for response — vanity 
rather than sentiment. This is one of the manifestations of the degeneration 
of the traditional forms of social life. We have seen (Vol. I, Introduction: 
Economic Auitudis) how economic attitudes that at first correspond to the 
communal life are later, with the growth of individualization, applied to familial 
life; the community becomes identified with the outside world and the atti- 
tudes which formerly found their expression in the individual's relation to all 
the members of the large family are limited to one or two (sometimes arbi- 
trarily selected) members. Exactly the same decadence is observable in 
Wladek's case; in the absence of a permanent community, the old and rich 
system of steady social relations is reduced to the family as milieu of recogni- 
tion and to the individual members (the mother, Pawel) as objects of senti- 
mental attitudes. 

' The cover is for "the guest beyond the mountains," and the meaning is 
half social, half mystical. The guest may be a wanderer, or originally a 
religious being. 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 243 

window/' I answered, *'and only when mother said my name, I 
swooned and my head pains me still from having struck a clod." 
Then again all the voices arose, for one heard a stroke, another 
a tap, mother again heard as if somebody were crying. . . . First 
we divided the wafer and I drank a glass of brandy, which I have 
not had in my mouth for a long time, for I had no money to buy 
it. After the supper we sat until late in the night and I related 
my adventures during the travel. Then we sang a few kolendas 
[Christmas songs] and went to sleep. I slept with father in his 
bed, but first I washed myself entirely and changed linen; I had 
none of my own and mother gave me father's. In this way ended 
my wandering of almost a year. Next morning I rose early, for 
I went to the pastoral mass, and called on my brother-in-law to 
divide wafer with them. They wanted to keep me for the whole 
day, but I would not even listen to it, for if I stayed I should be 
obliged to take my overcoat off, and then I should show my impos- 
sibly worn-out suit. I promised to come to vespers. On that 
day I was not in Lubotyn at all, only the next day I went to 
vespers, after which I stayed long into the night in my brother- 
in-law's house. Kazia and Pelagia came also and stayed for 
supper. Then everybody began to laugh at us, that is at me and 
Kazia, about that letter which I had written her from Grajewo. 
Kazia always carried that letter on her breast, but once she forgot 
it and it got into the hands of Miss Pelagia who carried it to my 
sister, and the latter told everybody about it, and only those did 
not know who did not want to know (everybody knew]. My 
brother Stach and my brother-in-law's brother Kazimierz knew 
it also. After supper we amused ourselves with conversation. 
Kazia sat in front of me, Stach and Kazimierz aside. Suddenly 
they took each other by the hands across the table, so that they 
divided us, and Stach said: "Well, Wladek, you promised to 
throw hell's gates open and to get Miss Kazimiera, now try whether 
you will tear our hands asunder." I did not move from my place, 
but Kazia reddened like a cherry, arose from her place and said, 
very angrily: "What do you think, Mr. Stanislaw? Am I an 
object of your jokes .^ Did I come here to have you laugh at me? 
It is not nice to behave so, Mr. S." Saying this, she left the room 
without bidding goodbye to anybody. All of us asked her not to 
leave, and her sister, who was then talking with my sister, even 
caught her by the hand, but she tore herself away and left us. 



244 THE POLISH PEASANT 

After this I became the object of the jesting and scorning of Stach 
and Kazimierz, and my brother-in-law helped them. I answered, 
but weakly, for I did not want to make any one of them angry 
with me. I was small [humble] and I bad not the courage to 
pay them as they merited, for I thought that, if not today, then 
tomorrow or in a month I might need them. So I preferred to be 
silent, although in my mind I called them great fools. They 
took their caps, drew them ofiF, and asked one another for gisiynk. 
Then again they made a bundle, took it under the arm and a stick 
into the hand and walked about the room, crooked, in imitation 
of me. I looked with tears in my eyes while they laughed at my 
misery. There would have been no end of it if my sister had not 
scolded them. About eleven I left Lubotyn with a grudge against 
those who dared to scorn at my misery. Since these Christmas 
holidays my relations with my brother-in-law grew quite changed. 
I lost my sympathy with him, and with Stach also. For it was 
well for my brother Stach that our parents had given him instruc- 
tion, although they got poor through it. In my opinion he should 
have thanked God that he was not obliged to wander and 
to try this pleasure. But at this moment I could do noth- 
ing, only I decided that I must earn enough money to start 
my own business, and then I would repay them. I resolved to 
leave as soon as possible in order to find some work quickly. 
With such ideas I came home and lay down to sleep without 
supper. 

Two days later I called on Mr. and Mrs. D. Mrs. D. re- 
proached me for allowing Kazia to be insulted in my presence. 
But I excused myself at once saying: ''Is it my fault if the whole 
community knows about the letter? I wrote only to Miss Kazia 
and here I see that everybody knows about it. Why did Miss 
Kazia show the letter? If nobody had known there would have 
been no laughing." Then Kazia cried out in wrath: ''It is this 
swine who stole it!" and she pointed with her finger at her sister. 
And they began to quarrel, until the entrance of Mr. D. inter- 
rupted the conversation about the letter. . . . 

The next day my brother-in-law, my sister and Stach came to 
Bogusiawice and we played cards. I sat down to play, to tell 
the truth, not for pleasure but for profit, for I hoped to win a few 
copecks for my wandering. I borrowed lo copecks from Lucus, 
for I had not a grosz of my own. Fortune favored me, for at the 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 245 

end of the play I had 60 copecks in my pocket* I gave Lucus 
10 copecks back and 50 were left for the journey. 

Meanwhile I began to prepare for the wandering. But at the 
mere idea of it my skin shrank, and I feared it like fire, for I did 
not know myself which way to go, and the winter was severe. 
I resolved to start on Monday, so on Sunday I went to Lubotyfi 
to bid farewell, first at Mr. D.'s then at my brother-in-law's, but 
I did not stay long, for I was not disposed to talk. Before I left 
Stach told me that if I passed near Mokrsko I should call on him. 
The next day I started, although my parents wanted me to stay 
at home for a week more, ''For you might freeze to death some- 
where," said mother. But I left in spite of her words, having i 
rouble in my pocket, 50 copecks which I won at cards and 50 
which my mother gave me. My shoes were repaired at my father's 
expense, my trousers patched and my linen washed. 



I did not know myself where to go, and I walked thus for a few 
wiorsta. If somebody had asked me where I was going I should 
not have known what to answer. Only on the way I resolved to 
go through Tomaszow, Piotrkow, Radom, Lublin. My wandering 
would not be so bad, for I met many towns on my way and I 
usually visited two in a day, but the awful cold and snowstorms 
oppressed me. I came to Tomaszdw after two weeks, without 
finding any work even for a single night. Beyond Tomaszow 
governmental forests spread out, in which the tsar had a shooting 
every year; in these forests is the tsar's castle called Spala. In 
order to get to Piotrkow, I had to pass through these forests. 
In the forest it was warm enough, for the wind did not reach 
there. I had only 12 grosz with me, but I did not fear hunger, 
for in the forest were big heaps of carrots, turnips, parsnips and 
around them whole herds of deer, boars and wild rabbits. I 
often approached such a heap and took whatever I wanted, and 
the good beasts said nothing and even were not much afraid of 
me. And thus I walked till evening, meeting no house, and I 
began to be anxious. Suddenly I heard a rattling behind and 
hope entered into me that perhaps this man would take me to 
some village where I could find shelter for the night. But I was 



246 THE POLISH PEASANT 

greatly mistaken, for when the cart came near me he struck tat 
with his whip over the head so that the end cut the skin on my 
neck, then he whipped his horses and drove away. Really, if I 
had had a revolver with me, I would have killed this beast like 
a dog, for he was not worth more. But I was powerless, and he 
was far away, so I sat down and wiped the blood away, washing 
my neck with snow.' Meanwhile it began to get dark in the 
forest and I had no shelter for the night. But I went forward, 
hoping to meet finally some village or hut. I kept along the 
telegraph poles in order not to lose my way, but I did not know 
that these poles went in various directions about the forest, con- 
necting the foresters and game-keepers. [Almost freezes; taken 
in by a game-keeper. Wanders further through many towns, 
with no success and after ten weeks finds himself in the neigh- 
borhood of Mokrsko, where Stach is teaching. Resolves to go 
there. There is a fair in Wieluii, and he visits the taverns in the 
hope of finding some one who will give him a ride to Mokrsko. 
Some rich peasants to whom he addresses himself recognize his 
resemblance to Stach, who is teaching their children. This makes 
everything easy and Wladek is feasted enormously, driven to the 
neighborhood of Mokrsko, and kept over night in the house of 
one of the party, the under-mayor of the commune.] * But I 
could not sleep, worried as I was with thinking how would Stach 
receive me. And even if he received me well I could not stay 
always with him. I had been ten weeks on the journey without 
finding any work, and I had no idea how long I should still be 
obliged to tramp about the world, and where was the end toward 
which I was going. A moment came when I wanted to rise, to 

' The contempt, suspicion and hate of the peasant for the vagabond have 
their source in (i) the attitude of the settled member of a permanent com- 
munity whose whole situation is socially known, whose life is socially deter- 
mined, who feels behind him the sanction of the group and knows himself to be 
in perfect accordance with the authority of tradition, and (2) the undetermined, 
insecure, socially non-sanctioned status represented by the vagabond, and in 
general by any person who has either no permanent social milieu or whose 
milieu is not known. The wandering musician and the country beggar have 
functions to perform (the latter, so to speak, peddles blessings) and the peasant 
has a place for them in his system. 

' As a brother of the teacher he is treated as a member of the community. 
It is notable also that Wladek is always well treated by the German immigrantt, 
who have a place in their system for the wandering journeyman. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 247 

take my stick and to go where my eyes would carry me in order 
not to see any men, whom I envied everything. For example, 
today such a peasant as the under-mayor had allowed himself 
to spend almost ten roubles on drink, and he knew that his own 
house and warm food awaited him. And who awaited me, who 
looked out for me? Nobody. "Brri" I muttered, rose from the 
bed and began to walk up and down in the room. I heard a dog 
barking and I envied even him, for he had his kennel and received 
food from his landlady and his landlord cared for it that nobody 
should steal him or kill him, for he would lose his watch and 
shepherd. And to whom was I necessary and what for? ' I 
could give no answer to myself, and again I approached the bottle 
and drank, in order to deafen those painful thoughts. Again 
I lay down upon the bed with my legs hanging, and wanted to 
sleep at least for a while, but I did not succeed. 

[Driven the next morning to Mokrsko, he does not stop at the 
school but goes immediately to Stach's lodging.] I undressed 
myself completely and put on my brother^s suit and shoes. There 
was water, so I washed myself. Hardly had I finished when a 
woman came in, greeted me by lowering her hand almost to the 
floor, and began to clean the room. But I did not allow her to 
take my clothes; I gathered them and hung them myself and 
threw my shoes behind the stove, for I was ashamed to show her 
my old clothes. I lighted a cigarette and went on the porch, 

' The vagabond lacks a steady social background, a group of a determined 
composition and a permanent set of practical conditions. This social back- 
ground makes certain demands and imposes certain obligations, but it gives 
also a feeling of security which the individual cannot obtain outside of a 
steady social system. Now the problem of choosing the vagabond life or the 
normal life depends upon how far the individual appreciates the security or 
fears the obligations, and this depends on his original attitudes and previous 
training. Evidently Wladek, with his strong desire for response and recogni- 
tion, has the appreciation of security very strongly developed. And thus his 
periodical passages from vagabondage to settled life is explained. Between 
the two, steady life-organization or change, he evidently leans toward change, 
but between liberty from obligations and social security the latter is more im- 
portant for him. His action depends therefore upon which side of the general 
problem is in the foreground — the question of change as against regulation, 
or the question of liberty from obligations as against social security. And it 
is natural that a long stay in the same conditions, not satisfying his desire for 
change, causes him to forget the question of security and to wander, while a 
long wandering arouses the desire for security. 




h8 the poush peasant 

waiting for Stach. Before I finished smoking he came and we 
greeted each other in a brotherly way. Stach did not recognize 
at the first moment that I was dressed in his clothes and said: 
''Well, but you look well and decent enough for such a wanderer.'* 

— ''Yes, decent enough, but look dose and see whose clothes 
these are." Stach came near and laughed sincerely, saying: 
"See here, how rapidly he managed to dress himself in my clothes! 
Well, but you did all right, for yours probably look deplorable." 

— "What do you expect? You saw them in Boguslawice, and 
since then I have not worked for a single hour." — "For the sake 
of God, Wladek, what are you doing? What will become of you? 
Almost three months have passed since Christmas and you have 
tramped during this whole time! Where have you been? But 
wait, you will tell me later, for I must now go to the school and 
tell the children to learn." He went and came back after a quarter 
of an hour, saying: "But probably you have not breakfasted 
yet, and I forgot to ask you." And without waiting for my answer 
he sat down, wrote a note, called a boy from the school, gave him 
the note and told him to go to the shop. Then he called the woman 
who lived also in the school-building, to whom he paid eighteen 
roubles a year, and who cleaned his room, cooked his food and 
washed his linen. He told her to prepare tea and to put water 
upon the fire to boil the sausage which the boy would bring. " Why 
did you send for sausage? I have mine which I received from 
the under-mayor's wife." — "From what under-mayor's wife? 
I don't understand. Speak more clearly." Here I began to 
relate how I had wandered and what had happened to me, and 
how I met the under-mayor, how he treated me and sent me to 
Mokrsko. I did not forget to tell him to look well after Franek, 
as the under-mayor had asked me to do. Stach sometimes 
laughed at my adventures and sometimes gave advice, such as, 
"Could you not have thrown a stone at that Ham who struck 
you with the whip?" or, "could you not have been more attentive? 
Then you would not have lost your way in the forest," and so on. 
While I related this, the boy had come long ago from the shop. 
Among the things which he brought was a bottle of alcohol which 
Stach mixed with berry-juice. The tea stood upon the table, 
and also warm sausage, so we drank a glass each and Stach told 
me to eat, while he went to the school. At noon the woman 
brought a rather good dinner. After dinner there was singing 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 249 

in the school, and my brother played the violin. At four, when 
the children began to leave the school, Stach called Franek and 
told him to thank his father nicely: "Tell him that I will do what 
he asked me." Stach told the woman to bring tea, and we ate 
some of the sausage which I brought. During the tea Stach asked 
me whether I knew how Jto play preference? "I know," I an- 
swered. "And have you money?" he asked me, laughing. "I 
have one zloty." — "Oh, that is not enough, for we play more 
expensively." He lighted the lamp, and so we sat and talked 
until seven. Then Stach gave me 3 roubles, saying: "Take this 
for card-playing, but try not to lose the money." — "And where 
shall we go?" — "Not far away, to the commune-secretary. I 
go there almost every day." Here he began to teach me how to 
talk and how to behave.' 

It was not far to the commune-office. Stach introduced me 
to the secretary, his wife and his daughter. Miss Ewa. We did 
not play at once, for we waited for the farm-manager. Usually 
the fourth place was occupied by the secretary's wife, who played 
very well. At nine she interrupted our playing, and gave a rather 
fine supper, during which the subject of conversation was my 
wandering, for Stach said, laughing, that I was continually tramp- 
ing about the world. Numerous questions began at once, where 
I was, what I saw. I related only things which I considered 
suitable and I acquitted myself well, for everybody laughed much 
and Stach was satisfied with me, for later, when we left, he said: 
"Where have you learned to talk so, you wild man? I thought 
that I should be ashamed of you, but I was mistaken." 

After supper we began to play again and played until one 
o'clock. The secretary's wife and daughter kept company with 
us, for in this game one player in turn is always free, and the 
ladies could talk with everybody. After the party the manager 
began to calculate points, but the secretary said: "Gentlemen, 
I don't know who has lost and who has won, but I propose to 
consider our play of today a mere amusement and not to pay 

' We see that Stach is not so egotistic and devoid of familial feeling as 
Wladek has represented, and that Wladek's envy is not motivated by the 
behavior of the members of his family. The real background of the situation 
is the failure of the familial system under the new conditions, not the dissolu- 
tion of the familial feelings in the individual. Wladek does not appreciate 
this, and his bitterness is against the individuals, not the system. 



I 



2SO THE POLISH PEASANT 

money, for it would not be suitable since we have a guest, and he 
talked more than he played. Do you agree?** — "All right we 
agree/* we all said almost simultaneously. But the manager 
was curious to know who had won and who had lost, and cal- 
culated to the end. The result was that I had won 75 copecks, 
the secretary 35, my brother 28, and the manager would have had 
to pay everybody. I did not know so well how to play, to tell 
the truth, but Stach in giving me the money told me not to lose 
it, so I never went high, unless the cards were good and the win- 
ning sure. I regretted that there was not any paying, for I 
should have had a few copecks for my journey, but it was done. 
Before we left, the secretary's wife asked Stach and me to come 
tomorrow to dinner, and Stach promised certainly. The manager 
also promised to come. So I amused myself on the first evening 
in Mokrsko.' 

When we came home Stach asked me how I liked the secre- 
tary and his wife, and particularly their daughter: "For you sec 
people here want to match me with her and I play politics as 

' The party was typical for the lower-middle class, and also to some extent 
for the classes from which it is imitated. The general basis upon which people 
meet and enjoy each other's company depends of course upon the common 
interests they have. In the primary peasant community there is no need of 
creating any particular basis of entertainment, for all the main interests of 
life are common because of the similarity of the occupations and the identity 
of the social milieu, which is an object of a permanent interest to all of ita 
members. In the meetings of young people the community of interest is 
present in the form of a background of sexual attitudes, considerations of 
eventual marriages, etc. ^thetic interests (dancing, music, dress) are 
frequently added, and this, with the satisfactions of vanity involved, is suf- 
ficient to make the meeting interesting. On a higher level of culture the 
community of general intellectual interests is usually a sufficient basis of 
social entertainment. But with the dissolution of the permanent primary 
group and its whole community of interests there arises a new problem — 
how to create a basis of entertainment for persons who have not similar occu- 
pations, who have not a sufficient circle of common acquaintances to fill their 
time with gossip, whose intellectual and aesthetic interests are meagre, and 
who are past the time of love-making. Card playing appears here as an easy 
solution, and therefore we see it developed to an exceptional degree in the 
new lower-middle class, and in the higher-middle class of provincial towns. 
It increases also in the old classes of nojbility and peasantry along with the 
dissolution of the communal life, and before a new sphere of common inter- 
ests is developed with the progress of social reorganization. It marks here 
a transitory period while it assumes a character of permanence in the moveable 
and unroganized lower-middle class. 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 251 

well as I can, and therefore I am very well off." — "All right," I 
said, "a rather fine girl. Has she much money?" — "Eh, she 
has a fig [nothing], not money." — "Well, and do you intend to 
marry her?" — "I don't even think about it. I have other duties 
which I must fulfil first. [Similar gathering again on the follow- 
ing evening.] On the way home I told Stach that he seemed to 
lead a merry life. "Oh, wait, I will show you something better; 
when we go to the mayor you will see how he will treat us. He 
has also a pretty daughter. Try to please her, perhaps she will 
fall in love with you." — "Listen, Stach, do you go thus every 
evening somewhere, as since I came?" — "Almost every evening, 
unless I don't want to." — " In that case living costs you nothing?" 
— "As you see." 

[Stach is betrothed already on a romantic basis to a girl in 
Chocz, and complains that the parents and Aleksy are annoying 
him and urging him to get a better place. His plan is to do this 
as soon as possible and to keep his parents five years (until his 
marriage) but not longer. He has a standing invitation to dine 
with the mayor, and he takes Wiadek there. The entertainment 
is very elaborate. The daughter is pretty and well disposed 
toward Stach.] Thus days passed and I should have been very 
glad of my visit to Stach had it not been for the thought of my 
wandering. If I had been going immediately to work from 
Mokrsko I should certainly have fallen in love with some girl, 
but the thought that I must tramp again about the world de- 
stroyed my wish for anything.* Moreover I wanted to leave as 
soon as possible, for I could not look with dry eyes on how he 
wallowed in everything and had whatever he wanted. Every- 
body respected and appreciated him; everywhere doors were 
open for him, and he prized I'ghtly everything he had, for he had 
never experienced any evil or misery. For if I had only one half 
of what he owned, how grateful I should be to God for h s good- 
ness. And tears flowed from my eyes when I compared his lot 
with mine. Fortune, how unjust you are! You drive one man 

* A very plain expression of the dependence of hedonistic attitudes upon 
the feeling of practical security. For WUdek love means nothing but pleasure, 
and the organization of life in view of pleasure is originally possible only if 
the essential practical problems are already solved, or if the attitude of com- 
plete negligence of them is developed, as in the accomplished pauper or 
TAgabond. 



#r 




.» 



252 THE POLISH PEASANT 

about the world and you have no pity on him though he is whipped 
with wind and snow and cold stops his breath. People treat him 
worse than a dog and drive him away from their doors, without 
asking: "Have you eaten? have you a place to sleep?** And 
when he asks for anything they are ready to beat him, like that 
peasant who struck me with the whip. And what for? Per- 
haps this mayor would have acted likewise if he had met me some- 
where on my journey, and today he sets tables for this same 
tramp. 

What a difference between us ! Why we have the same parents, 
the same name! And perhaps he is better considered because he 
is better instructed than I? In my opinion, not even for that. 
Or perhaps because he is nobler and handsomer? No, not for 
that. He merits consideration only because he has a secure 
existence, because he has bread. Let him wander into an un- 
known country; would he be better considered than I? No, a 
thousand times No. So if I want to merit consideration and 
respect, I ought first to win this [secure] existence. And how 
shall I win it and where? Shall I find it in tramping about the 
world? No, I must work, put money together and establish 
my own bakery. Then I can say boldly that I have [a secure 
existence] and even a better one than a teacher.' 

For in what respect is a handworker worse than an employee? ' 
In my opinion, only in this, that the first lives among paupers, 

' This 18 probably the moment when the idea of having a bakery of his 
own, which remains Wladek's dream and keeps him from complete pauperiza- 
tion, is established as a definite practical aim, while formerly it was rather 
an indefinite expectation of something to come in an undetermined future. 
The desire for recognition is the main basis of this aim; even comfort and 
security are secondary. The attitude was established by the humiliations 
of his wanderings and the crisis is constituted by the comparison of his own 
situation with that of Stach, which makes him understand the strong position 
given the individual by conformity with social regulation. 

'The current classification of the occupations is: (i) manor-owner, 
(2) manor official, (3) manor workman, (4) farmer (peasant), (5) citizen 
(house owner), (6) industrial entrepreneur, (7) merchant, (8) free profes- 
sional (doctor, lawyer, literateur, scientist, artist, etc.), (9) employee or official, 
that is, one employed in government or private business and who does not do 
physical work, (10) handworker, that is, skilled workman, whether in a fac- 
tory, in his own shop or as a journeyman, (11) unskilled factory-worker, 
(13) certain classes outside of this enumeration (clergy, army) having a special 
character. The classes do not correspond with the social hierarchy. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 253 

smyruses and in general brutal people, while the second from 
childhood is among intelligent people, and a well-known proverb 
says: "With whom you keep company, so you become.** ' And 
whose fault is it? Whose, if not the parents' who allow their 
sons to loaf about the street until their fifteenth or sixteenth year 
and then give them into apprenticeship. If it were at least real 
apprenticeship! But in fact they give them as parobeks to the 
master, who is not more intelligent than his own apprentice, for 
he knows often neither how to write nor to read and does not 
know how to appreciate his apprentice even if he wanted to do it. 
And he inculcates into them such principles as he has himself, 
i. e.y he teaches them drinking, brutality, fornication and some 
even teach their apprentices to steal. As the time passes, out 
of this apprentice grows again a journeyman and then a master. 
And if among them a man with better ideas is found, he gradually 
gets accustomed to this mob. And what do the parents say to 
it? They are glad that they got rid of their child and that is the 
end of it. Does a father ever ask his son whether the master 
tells him to go to church or to drink liquor, whether he gives him 
good advice, good books to read? No, the father never asks 
about this, for he does not care. But whether the master will 
buy him, the boy, shoes, shirts, etc. — oh, about this he does ask 
for he fears he may have to buy them himself.' 

In such an environment I lived habitually. Well, how could 
I in these conditions get to a better existence? Let your com- 

* He does not realize that the selection of the social milieu depends largely 
on himself, as it has done throughout his career. He rejected an opportunity 
at Lodi to associate himself with the intellectuals, in connection with Mr. 
Malicki. 

* His criticism is in general correct, and this represents again the mis- 
adaptation of the old system to the new conditions. Under the old familial 
system the child was a value, particularly in the country; it represented an 
increase of the family and thereby contributed to its social importance; eco- 
nomically it was a burden in the beginning, but even in the sixth or seventh 
year it began to be useful and was an increasing family capital. When the y 

familial system is dissolved the increase of the family ceases to mean anything 
socially, and the individual, particularly in the city, is only a burden, for there 
is no possibility of using him at an early age, and when he becomes productive 
it is usually on his own behalf. Therefore the attitudes of familial solidarity 
and pride that were sufficient to make the parents care for their children under 
the old system are no longer sufficient, and a new set of attitudes of personal 
affection and obligation must develop. 



\ 



254 THE POLISH PEASANT 

panions only know that you have some copecks, and they will 
take them away, even by force, and perhaps beat you into the 
bargain. How can you think about putting money aside for 
your own bakery among such companions? There is an answer, 
it is true — get rid of them. But is it possible? Why, you work 
with them, you ispend with them your whole time. One time, 
ten times you will drive them away, but the eleventh time they 
will tempt you. And now I have visited scores of towns, and 
what did I get? A dozen lice behind my collar. And I don't 
know when I shall find any work, and finally perhaps they will 
allow me to earn enough for new shoes somewhere, and again I 
shall go further. Oh, really it would be better if I had not been 
born, or, if I knew neither how to write nor to read; then per- 
haps it would be easier to bear everything! I leaned my head 
against the table and began to cry. I resolved to leave next 
Tuesday, for I could not bear my misery, which appeared to me 
still more terrible in comparison with Stach. The entrance of 
Stach interrupted my reflections. ^Seeing that I was crying he 
asked the cause of it. Instead of answering, I waved my hand, 
for I lacked the words to express what I felt at this moment. But 
he did not feel it, only laughed, drew nearer and said: ''Oh, I 
know why you are crying. Certainly you are very much in love 
with the mayor's daughter." I could not refrain from laughing, 
but then I said seriously: ''Don't jest, you can guess why I am 
crying. You know that I have wandered for so long a time and 
again the same awaits me." But Stach did not let me talk about 
it. He turned the conversation to another subject, for I knew 
well that it was not pleasant for him either that I was tramping 
thus. He said: "Do you know, Wiadek, against sorrow drink 
is the best." He poured brandy into glasses and we drank. Soon 
the woman brought tea. Stach did not allow me to talk about 
my misery; he played the violin and the flute, and said: "After 
storm and lightning the sun must shine." [Stach invites Wiadek 
to stay "until it is warmer," but when he continues bent on going 
arranges to send him as far as Wielufi with the shop-keeper who 
is going there to a fair.] On Wednesday we rose earlier. I put 
on my old suit and shoes and drew from my pocket those three 
roubles which Stach gave me for cards, but he refused to accept 
them, saying that I could pay them back when I earned some 
more money. I thanked him. I took alsa the rest of the sausage 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 255 

and a part of the hare. Stach bade me gcx>dbye in a brotherly 
way and asked me to write to him. I promised this solemnly, 
and we drove away. When we came to the town the shop-keeper 
invited me to the tavern to take, as he said, one glass to warm 
ourselves. We drank not one, but three glasses each, and sep- 
arated. I went to the bakeries, and after this bought new pants 
for seventy-five copecks, went to a privy, changed, and left my 
old pants. I went to Zloczew, Sieradz, Dobra, but there was 
nowhere work. [More wandering.] Finally I came to Kutno 
and there I stayed, for I found work as Weisskneter at 2 rb. 50 a 
week. My master's name was Krasowski. He was still young, 
thirty-two, and his wife was ten years younger. I must mention 
that she was the most beautiful woman in Kutno. Mr. K. kept 
two journeymen and a parobek and besides these a cook and a 
nurse for his two children. In a word, things looked rich in 
Mr. K.'s house. Mrs. K. was the daughter of a pensioned post- 
official and had two sisters in the same town who were still girls, 
and lived with their parents. But they spent more time in my 
master's house than in their own. My master's father-in-law, 
Mr. D. was a very old man. He wore whiskers half a foot long 
and white as milk. His whole work was going to church in the 
morning and reading papers in the afternoon. His wife was also 
very old, but weakly. Mr. K. had his bakery on the market- 
place, under the name "Warsaw Bakery," for he was a Warsavian 
himself. They had one good horse, a cart and a small coach. 
The house in which they lived had three floors, but the rest of 
the apartments were occupied by Jews, each of whom kept a 
Polish cook. The bakery was on the first floor in a back-wing 
of the house. Counting my master's servants, there were seven 
maid-servants in the house. They could often be met all to- 
gether in the courtyard, in a very animated conversation. In 
such an environment, among so many girls, I began to work. 



The bakery was rather nice and clean. As Werkmeister there 
was also a decenf man, serious enough, about thirty-six years old, 
very sympathetic and intelligent. We soon became friends. The 
parobek was a young man, Stefan. When I got there it was near 



2S6 THE POLISH PEASANT 

Easter. I went nowhere, for I had no clothes, so I preferred to 
sit in the bakery. The lodging for the bakers was upstairs, above 
the bakery. The Werkmeister whom I shall call Mr. M . d.d not 
go out often either, though we sometimes went to the church. Mr. 
M. advised me not to keep company with the cooks, for the master 
disliked it awfully and had no consideration for such a journey- 
man. *' Your predecessor was dismissed precisely for this.'* Mr. 
M. did not need to warn me very much, for I did not like it myself. 
The meals were very copious and good. I did not need to take 
money for cigarettes from my master, for every evening the cook 
brought us, with the supper, twelve grosz for sausage and I spent 
this money on cigarettes and washing, and whatever I earned re- 
mained with the master. I did not need to buy brandy either, 
for we got a glass each at lunch every day. So we never went to 
a tavern. Sometimes Mr. M. sent the parobek for two bottles of 
beer, sometimes I did it, and in this way I needed no money and 
left it with the master, that I might buy myself whatever I needed. 
In a word, I tried to be a decent man and soon I had the good favor 
of Mr. and Mrs. K. From them Mr. and Mrs. D. and the girls 
learned it, so whenever they met me standing before the bakery 
they always said something to me or laughed. But I did not try 
to get into a nearer acquaintance with them. Mrs. K. was also 
very kind to me whenever I went into the kitchen, and I had to 
go there every day. First I went only to the kitchen, but then 
I grew bolder and went straight into the room. There I often 
met Mrs. K.'s sisters. The older one's name was Jozia, the younger 
one's Wikcia. They were not very pretty, but very well educated. 
Each of them had finished a school in Warsaw, and it was very 
pleasant to talk with then, particularly with the younger one. 
So whenever I met them we always talked for awhile in the presence 
of Mr. and Mrs. K. Mr. K. boasted before other bakers that he 
had such decent workmen, and we tried to merit this praise. We 
knew whatever Mr. K. said about us, for the cook and nurse in- 
formed us about everything. 

Thus without any incidents, we had worked for ten weeks. 
Easter passed and Pentecost was near. [Mr. M. overheats the 
oven, resents the reproof of Mr. K. and leaves. Mr. K. gets 
another journeyman who is ''a true baker." He drinks and has 
escapades with the servant girls and spoils the work. Mean- 
while the behavior of Wladek remains exemplary. He leaves his 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 257 

salary with Mr. K. for three months and hardly leaves the bakery. 
Mr. K. urges him to go out and shows him a garden in which he 
can walk. Finally he buys clothes and shoes.] I walked now 
often, usually alone, sometimes with Mr. D., who liked me much, 
although I had not yet been in his house. But today I was no 
longer the old tramp; everything was fresh and clean upon me. 
But rumors reached me that the bakers intended to beat me, 
because I kept no company with them and because I fawned too 
much upon Mr. K.* But I did not care for it, for I never went to 
the tavern. I had always my existence in mind, that is, I always 
thought about establishing my own bakery and this was the only 
end of my life, for the wandering stood always before my eyes. 
Therefore I put money aside and I had enough to dress myself. 
The other journeymen envied me, for they saw me very often 
going either with my master, or with Mr. D. or with his daughters, 
while they never had anybody except Jewish maid-servants for 
company. On Sunday I more than once spent the whole after- 
noon in my master's apartment, and sometimes when Mrs. K.'s 
sisters took a drive in the coach, I accompanied them. The 
other bakers saw all this, and what they <lid not see, the fFerk- 
meisUr told them. 

Now I received very often letters from my family and acquain- 
tances, particularly from Kazia, who in every letter gave me to 
understand that I could marry her. But I was not thinking 
about it. No changes had happened in my family. Pawel was 
already a salesman and earned 35 roubles a month. Stach ex- 
pected to be transferred very soon, sister Marya returned to our 
parents, for her lady was going far away, to Wolyii, and she did 
not want to go with them. Father complained about want in 
his letters. I wrote also to Mr. and Mrs. R. in Sosnowiec asking 
them how Miss Dora was getting on, and soon I received an 
answer. In a word, I corresponded on all sides and was satisfied 
with my existence.* 

. . . Thus came Pentecost. Mrs. K. sent us good brandy in 
a bottle and various meats and cakes. After breakfast I dressed 
myself and went to church for the main service. I returned home 
with the intention of eating dinner and then sleeping, but the 

' In connection with this fawning tendency, cf, p. 90, note. 

* The beginning of a settled life brings again a revival of all the social 
relations. 



tSS THE POLISH PEASANT 

cook came and asked me to go to the room to dinner. I was 
astonished and asked the cook what it meant that such an honor 
was bestowed upon me today. The cook answered that she did 
not know, only mentioned that Mrs. K.'s parents with their 
daughters would be at dinner also. ... I greeted both families 
only with a bow, for I must add that I had never yet shaken hands 
with the girls. Mr. K. indicated to me a chair and I sat down. 
Mrs. K. began to inquire why I was always so sad and not like 
the other bakers. I told her who I was, who were my brothers 
and that they disdained me because I was a baker. ''Then they 
are silly," answered Mrs. K. But I did not allow her to say any- 
thing against my brothers and explained why they disdained me 
and laughed at me. Here I related in short that I had to wander 
and tramp, ragged, often hungry, and therefore when I came to 
them in such a condition they laughed at me, for they would have 
liked to see me always decent and nicely dressed. And I was 
thoughtful because I was thinking how to get money as soon as 
possible for my own bakery. All the listeners agreed that I was 
right. And Mr. K. said: "Why do you grieve? Are you the 
only man who wanders.^ Why I was also a journeyman, then 
served in the army, and now I have my own bakery." — "And 
where did you earn the money for the bakery?" — "I will tell 
you some other time. And now let us take a drink and that is 
the end." When dinner was over I wanted to leave, in order 
not to disturb the family, but Mrs. K. did not allow me to go, 
saying: "What is your hurry? Are you badly off with us?" — 
"No, but — " — " No, 'but,' please sit down, that's all." And I 
stayed and became bolder and merrier at every moment. Mr. K. 
asked me to sing the song which I usually sang in the bakery, 
and indicated the melody. When I finished everybody was 
pleased and they asked me to sing something more. I did not 
let myself be begged, and sang a few more songs, while the girls 
accompanied me a little. In this way we spent the time till four, 
when Mr. K. told Stefan to put the horse to the cart, saying that 
we would go to his kutns in the country, three wiorsta away. 
[Description of the trip, without interest.] We younger people 
returned afoot. Mr. K. told me to accompany the girls to their 
house, and for the first time I was in the girls' home, and stayed 
there more than an hour.* 

* The meaniiig of this whole party for Wladek is not so much the practical 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 259 

[WerkmeisUr discharged for burning rolls and leaving his work 
to run after girls] and for a few days Mr. K. and I worked together. 
It was very pleasant to work with the master, for he had much to 
relate about Warsaw and about the army. He told me the fol- 
lowing story of how he got his bakery: 

"When I went to the army I had nothing except a few roubles, 
and when I returned to Warsaw I could not find any work. Then 
I remembered my uncle, who had at that time a bakery in Kutno. 
I wrote him a letter asking him to accept me as a WeisskneUty 
and in a short time I received an answer saying that there would 
always be work for me. I worked for three years with my uncle 
and put aside more than 100 roubles. At the same time I got 
acquainted with my wife, but I did not dare to marry her, for I 
had not money enough to establish my own bakery. I heard 
that my betrothed was to receive some hundreds of roubles as 
dowry, but I was not sure and did not dare to ask. 

"Once my uncle began to persuade me to marry and to take the 
bakery from him, for he intended to leave Kutno and to establish 
a bakery elsewhere. 'How so?' I asked, 'for what shall I take 
your bakery? Why, I have no money.' — ' I won't take much 
from you. You will give me 300 roubles for the w^^ole business.' — 



significance of being on good terms with the master as the social significance 
of being for the first time since he left Sosnowiec and Dora's house in a social 
circle superior to his own. The very fact that he remembers all the details 
shows the importance it had for him. And in all his conversations with the 
editors the happenings of this kind stood forth as the prominent facts of his 
life. His self-respect is almost exclusively based upon them. And this is 
the typical feature of all members of a society with a strong feeling of social 
hierarchy, combined with a climbing tendency. The value of the individual 
in his own eyes is determined by the attitudes toward him of the highest 
social class with which he comes into social contact, and only when these 
attitudes are distinctly deprecatory he resigns himself to accepting the appre- 
ciation of his own class as the basis of self-esteem, and when this is refused 
looks for recognition still lower. Of course the position of the class and the 
position of the individual within his class combine in determining self-appre- 
ciation, but so long as the climbing tendency is not developed the latter is 
fundamental, while with the growth of this tendency the most insignificant 
marks of favor from a few members of a superior class outweigh an y T^P^^ 
ai^d consideration he may have within his own clas s. The result is a curious 
sociaTinstability of the individual, who has no deep roots anywhere, and this 
is frequently as harmful to a normal organization of life as the unregulated 
tendency to change as expressed in vagabondage. 



>• 



26o THE POLISH PEASANT 

*A11 right,* I answered, * but where shall I get so much money?' — 
*I will give you credit, and when you marry you will give me the 
money back. Don't worry about money, everything can be done, 
only tell me whether you want to marry and to take the bakery?' 
— *I do,' I answered without hesitation. I did not know that 
my uncle had already talked with my present father-in-law. Soon 
after this conversation I proposed and a few weeks later was my 
wedding. I received 800 roubles of dowry, paid 300 to my uncle, 
and 500 were left. In the beginning I worked myself and had one 
journeyman to help me, and now, as you see, I am almost rich and 
don't need to work myself. So don't worry, the same luck may 
happen to you." — "Yes, I believe you, but only if I had such an 
uncle as you." — "Eh, what do you say! Sometimes strangers 
can help still better than your own people." 

[Mr. K. goes to Warsaw and leaves Wladek in charge, promising 
to bring him a nice gift if everything is in order on his return.] 
Eight days passed, and when Mr. K. came back from his journey 
he praised me but did not give me any gift, as he had promised. 
But when the cook brought us the supper she said: "Mr. Weiss^ 
knetetj what a nice gift the master brought you ! " — "What then ?" 
I asked, curious. " What will you give me if I tell you ? " — " What 
can I give you unless a nice kiss?" and I pretended as if I wanted 
really to do it. She ran about the bakery, calling: "I will tell, 
I will tell!" — "Then tell me." And she said: "Well, Mr. K. 
brought his sister Miss Helena, very pretty and young, perhaps 
seventeen, only very black." — "How is that? You say she is 
black. I don't understand. Tell me properly." — "Well, I will 
tell you. She is very pretty only her hair is deep black and above 
the eyes also." ' — "And this is to be a gift for me?" — "I heard 
Mr. and Mrs. K. laughing and saying in the presence of the miss 
that when you come Mr. K. will show you the gift." I tried hard 
to guess what this could mean — whether he was only playing a 
joke or really looking for a girl for me. So I resolved to be very 
careful and also to try to learn from the cook what Mr. and Mrs. 
K. said about me. Today I did not go for the paper, but sent 
Stefan and told him to observe Miss Helena.' When he came 
back he said that she was very pretty and so plump. I did not 
go to the shop this evening, but next day I had to go and to ask 

* The peasant ideal of beauty is fair. 

' He shows here the suspicion and caution of the peasant. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 261 

for orders before beginning work. I talked with Mr. K. and at 
the same time looked through the door of the bed-room in which 
shone a pair of black eyes. A few times during the conversation 
with Mr. K. those eyes met mine and I noticed that they were 
very frolicsome. On passing through the dining-room I noticed 
that a bed had been placed there and I guessed that it was the 
bed of Miss Helena. On that day again I did not go for the 
paper, but Stefan brought it. The following day again I saw only 
her eyes, and again sent Stefan for the paper. But he returned 
with nothing, saying that Miss H. was alone in the dining-room 
and reading the paper. "When she saw me, she asked what I 
wanted. I said that I came for the paper. *Do you read the 
paper, since you come for it?* she asked. 'I don't want it for 
myself but for Mr. Weisskneier,' I said. *Then tell Mr. Weiss- 
kneter that if he wants to read let him come himself,* she said, and 
told me to go away." 

I had still two hours of time till the dough grew, so I mustered 
all my courage and went. The door to the dining-room was closed, 
so I knocked and when I heard, " Come in," I entered and closed 
the door behind me. I said: "I beg your pardon, but may I beg 
you for the paper? I sent Stefan, but you did not deign to give 
it to him." — "I did not give it to him because I had not finished 
reading, but I am finishing it and I will give it to you presently. 
Please wait awhile." While she read, I could observe her well 
and I noticed that she was a dark brunette with black eyes and a 
somewhat dark complexion. She wore a red dress and a black 
apron and had nothing of particular in comparison with other 
school girls whom I saw in Lodz, only her movements betrayed 
that she was very nimble and her eyes that she liked to flirt and 
to laugh at boys. She was a true type of Warsaw girl. While I 
observed her thus she finished reading, folded the paper and 
stretched it toward me. I approached to take it but she with- 
drew it rapidly and put it upon the table, pressing it with her 
hand and saying: "Are you in such a hurry that you want to 
leave already?" — "Oh, no, I am not in a hurry at all, for I have 
more than an hour before I begin my work." — "In that case sit 
down for awhile, we shall talk." — "All right, but what about? 
I don't know anything with which I could interest you. You may 
know something, for in such a big city as Warsaw there is always 
something new, so tell me something, for I know little of Warsaw." 



I 



262 THE POLISH PEASANT 

But neither she nor I could find any subject of conversation, so 
we talked about trifles. Miss Helena made no great impression 
upon me; I had already seen prettier girls. As I noticed later, 
she liked to talk about balls, romances [romantic novels] and the 
like, while I wanted a friend to whom I could pour out all my 
thoughts. Nevertheless I went every day to Miss Helena for the 
paper. 

While this was going on in Kutno, I received a letter from my 
parents informing me that they were going to Stach, who had 
received a place in Straszkowice, five wiorsta from Koto. Stach 
wrote me that he would pass through Kutno in order to visit me, 
and I was very glad of this promise. And again days passed 
monotonously. I spent the evenings with Miss Helena, and we 
became friends and rather intimate. It happened that she was 
half undressed and sat thus in her bed, and I sat near her and 
flirted. Sometimes at night I helped Stefan to carry out the rolls, 
in order to look at Miss Helena as she slept, and often I found her 
uncovered and her nightgown drawn higher. So I stood and 
looked at her body, and then various ideas came to my mind, either 
to kiss her, or to lie down near her. But I had not courage enough 
for I was not sure how she would accept it. When the evening 
came I told her how I had seen her at night, and she laughed 
heartily. In the day time she often went to the garden and always 
passed through the courtyard, and I waited for her and talked for 
awhile. On returning, she brought me some flower every day. 
Once she held some yellow flower in her hand and gave it to me to 
smell. When I did it, she painted my whole face with this flower, 
laughing at me. And then — I don't know how I could dare to 
do it — I embraced her, pressed her against me and kissed her. 
When I let her go she was awfully powdered with flour from my 
clothes. She looked at herself, laughed and ran to the apartment. 
I was very frightened, for I thought that she would tell it to Mr. 
K. and he would scold me. But my fear was groundless; she 
mentioned it to nobody, only ordered the cook to brush her dress, 
and said that I had powdered her with flour. And when I had 
dared to do it once it was easier, and I got a kiss almost every 
evening. 

Once I resolved to bring her flowers also, and with this in- 
tention started outside of the town to a certain garden to buy a 
few roses. But I met a few bakers, among them our former 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 263 

Werkmeisier^ who held me up and began to inquire what was 
the news in the bakery of Mr. K. Finally they began to demand 
that I should treat them. I refused for a long time, but finally 
I yielded and went with them into a tavern. I ordered a bottle 
of vodka and zakttski and sat down with them at the table. When 
the bottle was dry our former Werkmeister began to make 
reproaches, saying that he had left through me, that I was holding 
too much to the master's side, and so on. And before I could 
have expected it, he struck me rather strongly on the face and 
swung his arm to strike me a second time. But he did not suc- 
ceed, for I struck him with my stick on the head and ran out into 
the street. Of course I went rapidly to the bakery and told Mr. 
K. everything. He said: "It is all right for you. I told you 
more than once never to go with them into the tavern." [Two 
days later buys a bouquet of roses, but Helena refuses to accept 
it. He implores and threatens to tear it to pieces. She relents.] 
I breathed freely for I began to feel hot from shame at the thought 
that perhaps she really would not accept the nosegay and I should 
be obliged either to throw it upon the floor or, with my head hung 
down and the nosegay in my hand, and with a very long nose, to 
leave the shop. And Mr. and Mrs. K. stood behind the door and 
observed us till the last moment, and this took my courage away 
still more. I thanked her for accepting it and went from the shop 
into the street with a strongly beating heart.' In the evening 
when the cook brought the supper she said that Miss Helena 
kissed and embraced this nosegay and had changed the water more 
than once. Mr. K. scolded her for letting me beg so long, but 
she said that she pitied me, for I must have spent much money on 
this nosegay, and that if I had gathered the flowers myself she 
would have accepted them at once. 

[Visited for a few hours by Stach and Lucus. War with Japan 
imminent and Mr. K. who belongs to the reserves] was going for 
the second time to Warsaw and Miss Helena intended to go with 
him. I had not gone any further in my romance. I went every 

* His ezcitement is heightened ( i) by the fact that she is spoiling the 
effect which he had long and carefully prepared, and the presence of Mr. and 
Mrs. K. made the failure worse, and (2) not to accept a gift is considered 
among peasants, and in general wherever the same attitudes of social solidarity 
are found, a serious offense, since (as we have seen in Vol. I) the gift is intended 
to establish symbolically a familial relation. 



264 THE POLISH PEASANT 

evening to her, I kissed her often enough, but I made no plans for 
the future. Whenever Miss Helena wanted to talk about it, I 
always turned the conversation to some other subject. When 
she told me that she was going away I accepted this news with my 
usual indifference, for as the reader knows already, I did not know 
how to love. One must have been blind not to notice that this 
bringing of Mr. K.'s sister to Kutno was not without intention, 
for not only Mr. K. did not try to hinder our private conversations, 
but on the contrary, he tried to let us meet as often as possible. 
I don't know what to judge, whether Mr. K. wanted me to marry 
his sister or he and everybody else only made a fool of me. But 
this latter supposition is improbable, for in that case would Miss 
H. have allowed herself to sit with me half undressed, as happened 
more than once? I had to use my will in order not to violate her. 
Sometimes I left the room in order not to be tempted, for if I had 
foolished with her I should have been obliged to marry her, and 
she was not a suitable wife for me. If she had been a little wiser 
and more serious, I should have perhaps acted otherwise. 

Just while I was occupied with the thoughts of how to act 
toward Miss H., I received a letter from Mr. and Mrs. R., who 
informed me that Miss Dora had married a glovemaker from 
Turek. They sent her address and wrote that they did not force 
her to this marriage. In the beginning Dora showed an aversion 
to it but later she agreed and they were living in good concord and 
loved each other well enough. When I read this letter I felt a 
deep regret for my Dora, who was now lost to me once and forever. 
Shall I ever meet another such Dora in my life? I had spent with 
her the most pleasant moments of my life. Without waiting I 
sat down and wrote a hearty and long farewell letter in which I 
scolded her a little for not having invited me to her wedding, and 
sent it on the same day. 

Meanwhile Mr. K. went to Warsaw and took his sister, to 
whom I bade goodbye as usually every evening. And again I 
was the master in his absence, and I behaved well, so that he had 
nothing to reproach me for when he returned. But after his 
return our relations became strained. He did not show me the 
same regard as before and talked to me more brutally. I broke 
my head thinking what could be the reason of this coldness of 
Mr. K. and I could not understand it. Only later, when the 
WerkmeisUr left again because he had kept the cook too long in 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 265 

the bakery, and we were working together, I reminded him of that 
gift which he had promised to bring me from Warsaw. Then 
Mr. K. laughed ironically, saying: ''How is that? Did I not 
bring you my sister? It is not my fault if you are a gaper." — 
''Well, how could I guess that it was destined for me, this gift in 
the person of Miss Helena?" — "It is a pity," said Mr. K., "per- 
haps I should have brought her to the bakery or to your room?" 
I answered nothing, for I did not want to talk any more about it, 
because I saw that the master was very angry. And now I could 
guess easily what was the reason of his changed behavior.' Slowly 
I lost also my old sympathy with him; I never went any more for 
the paper, for the orders I went to the kitchen only, and there 
Mr. K. met me. 

[A new Werkmeister is engaged. He is a dangler after women 
and in his society Wiadek "foolishes" with cooks. The reservists 
are now being gathered in Kutno.] Every day more and more 
people flowed in, and we could not make enough bread. Our 
hands fainted from rolling of dough and our legs from standing. 
For we stood without any rest twenty-two or twenty-three hours 
every day. These two or three hours we were obliged to rest, 
for the dough had to grow. Nevertheless, Mr. K. did not improve 
at all, but became more and more brutal toward me and mani- 
fested his superiority, while it was not so formerly. So I resolved 
to change my place. I would have done it before if I had not 
feared the wandering. Winter was approaching so I stayed and 
bore patiently everything, believing that it would change. But 
there was no change, on the contrary, every day it got worse. So 
I resolved really to leave — I only waited for a good opportunity. 
And so days passed.' 

' There could hardly have been a greater offense to Mr. M. than Wladek's 
implicit refusal to accept his sister as wife. Moreover Wiadek had professed 
to be anxious to advance in life; this is normally effected by marriage and 
dower, and Mr. K. had offered him a career. It seems incredible that Wiadek 
did not grasp the whole situation at once, but we know how serious a mental 
effort is necessary at this stage of development to reflect, and to understand 
any new and relatively complicated situation. Wiadek does, not speak of 
having thought it over, and as he usually remembers and quotes at length 
his reflections, he evidently did not have one of his periods of thinking. During 
the period of Helena's stay nothing sufiiciently definite and important had 
happened to arouse hit reflective tendency. 

' He had been treated as a member of the family, while now he is treated 



266 THE POLISH PEASANT 

[Letters from home and from Kazia, of no interest, and from 
Dora] who wrote that she was succeeding very well but that she 
was not very happy. She wrote that she regretted [longed for] 
the past days in her parent's garden in Sosnowiec. She asked me 
not to omit her if I ever came to Turek, for she would be very 
angry with me if she learned that I did it. In reading this letter, 
I reddened to the top of my ears in remembering those days about 
which Dora wrote and I was very glad in my soul that she remem- 
bered me and did not forget our friendship. I resolved to visit 
her on the first opportunity, and meanwhile I answered her, 
thanked her for her remembrance of me and promised that on the 
first occasion I would visit her and would pay those ten roubles 
back. I answered Kazia also and my family, warning them not 
to write me, for the letters might not find me. And I wrote the 
truth, for three weeks later I was no longer in Kutno. 

[Both workmen oversleep and Mr. K. finds the bread unbaked.] 
Then Mr. K. began to abuse me for not watching over the work. 
He said that he did not need people to sleep, but to work. "I 
am paying," he said, "so I need everything to be done on time." 
Moreover he swore rather strongly. I did not answer in the 
beginning at all, for I felt that I was guilty. Moreover I was not 
bold and not foul-mouthed. As to swearing, I was almost unable 
to express it. Nobody of my acquaintance or family had ever 
heard from me the word ** psiakretv^' [dog's blood]. My only 
oath was "psiakoSd sloniotaa** [dog's bone of an elephant (parody 
of the first)]. In the worst wrath I sometimes expressed myself, 
"ji CO do pioruna** [what is this? Let the thunder strike it], and 
this was the end of it.' 

So now I let Mr. K. talk, for I thought: "He will scold and 
then he will stop." But I was mistaken, for Mr. K. did not cease 
to abuse me and to swear. Finally I was weary of listening, and 
I said: "It is easy for you to scold, when you have slept as much 
as you wanted You know that we have not slept almost at all 
for a few weeks, so it is not strange that we have slept a little, for 
we could not stand the sleepiness." — "It is the devil's business, 

as a mere workman, and this is probably what he means when he says that 
Mr. K. "manifested his superiority." The change has meant much for him, 
in view of his strong desire for social response. 

* His strong desire for social response leads him to avoid anything which 
might provoke an unfavorable reaction. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMiVIIGRANT 267 

not mine, if you want to sleep. I need to have the bread in time 
and pay for it, not for sleeping." — "How is that, the deviPs 
business.^ It is your duty to give the workman what he needs 
and only then to require from him exact work. Moreover, I have 
enough of this katorga [Siberian penitentiary]. Instead of being 
grateful that your workmen are working to exhaustion, you swear. 
So from tomorrow look for another workman, and I will wander 
further." And I said not a word more, but approached the table 
and began to work, telling Mr. Jozef to hurry. Mr. K. scolded 
a little more and went into the shop. 

The next day my week ended, so I began to prepare for the 
journey. Up to the present nobody believed that I would really 
leave, but when they saw that I was getting ready they began to 
dissuade me. I would not listen to anybody, although really I 
regretted to leave, but I did not want to beg Mr. K.'s pardon, for 
I was more than sure that in a few days the same thing would 
repeat itself, while Mr. K. was too proud to beg me to remain 
with him.* When I was ready to leave I went to the shop for 
my money and found there Mr. and Mrs. K. When Mrs. K. 
saw me, she asked why I was leaving, whether I was badly off 
there, whether I wanted to wander again as I did before. She 
told me to stay, the passage of reservists would end soon and then 
it would be easier. But I was deaf to her entreaties, only an- 
swered that such work was too hard for me, and moreover Mr. K. 
treated me brutally, although during the whole time I had tried 
as much as I could. So I could not remain, for I did not like if 
anybody did not know how or did not want to respect my work. 
Saying this, I asked Mr. K. for money, for he was present during 
our conversation, without taking any part in it. So he began to 
calculate how much money I had taken and how many weeks I 
had worked. I had it written down also, and soon the calcu- 
lation was ready and Mr. K. paid me 17 rb. 50. He gave me my 
papers and said that if I didn't find work I could return to him at 
any time. 

« 

' His unwillingness to stay after he has thought of leaving is character- 
istic (r/. p. 181, note, and 201, note). In view of the awakened desire for new 
experience actual conditions appear as undesirable, even independently of 
their objective value. 



268 THE POLISH PEASANT 

[Leaves well provided with clothing. Has a watch worth 
eighteen roubles. Plans to spend a few days with Stach and 
makes the start in ^ vehicle. But in KroSniewice he goes for 
giszynkj and in the second bakery is offered temporary work and 
accepts it.] I very 6oon got acquainted with the cook, for when- 
ever she brought me something to eat or came to clean up she sat 
down and began to talk with me. We became bolder and more 
familiar every d^, and as I had got acquainted already with 
cooks in Kutno, I behaved more boldly and began to persuade her 
to foolish. I promised her always that I would come to her to the 
kitchen at night, for I had free entrance, because I carried the 
glowing coals froni the oven and put them into the kitchen stove. 
I always put my hand under the cover in passing and pinched her, 
for which she was not very angry. When I became more and more 
insistent, she told me to come at night, and I went, without caring 
that Mr. and Mrs. H. slept across the hall. I had a small room 
upstairs in which I slept after the work. I was always roused for 
dinner and afternoon luncheon. Sometimes Miss Wanda or her 
sister did it, but they only knocked at the door and when I an- 
swered told me to come to dinner. But when the cook was rousing 
me she entered my room boldly and pinched or tickled me. It 
was the same today. I pretended to sleep fast, but very slowly drew 
to the edge, rapidly seized her and threw her over myself upon the 
bed on the side of the wall. She defended herself hardly at all, only 
told me to hurry lest somebody should find us. Later I went every 
night to the kitchen and foolished, and nobody ever disturbed us. 
But finally I ceased to go to the kitchen, for I began to loathe her, 
but even then from time to time we foolished, but in my room, for 
when she came to rouse me I could not get rid of her. She pinched 
and tickled me until I gathered again the wish to foolish. But 
I ceased positively to go to the kitchen, and I even thought about 
putting a lock on the door of my room, but had no time to do it.' 

' This case probably gives the key to Wladek's behavior in sexual relations. 
Disgust here follows spontaneously a period of probable sexual excess. The 
same process seems to have occurred in all other cases, except that in the 
relation with Dora the reaction did not go so far and was limited to a feeling 
of satiety. Thus there seems to be a certain periodicity in his sexual impulses, 
alternations of periods of interest and periods of indifference. These periods 
are, however, not absolutely fixed as to duration and rate of succession, and 
thus pyschological factors, such as the desire for change, the romantic attitude, 
practical troubles, can always shorten or lengthen a period. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 269 

In this way I lived until Christmas. About this time I got 
acquainted with a girl, Miss Zofia. She was rich enough, very 
pretty, instructed and still young. I went to her house often 
enough. She lived alone with her mother, for she had no longer 
a father and her only brother, also a baker, worked at that time 
in Cz^tochowa. But Miss Zofia was very proud and inaccessible. 
I could never get a kiss from her, although I tried hard. If I 
made a randka she never came. One might say that she did not 
care for me at all, but on the other hand she tried always to meet 
me and invited me to her. In her mother's house we spent the 
time cheerfully, but seriously We mostly read books, and rather 
moral ones, and discussed them later. Up to this time I had 
always succeeded in profiting from every girl I knew, so I resolved 
to get a kiss from her, but in such a way that she would not get 
angry.' I told her that I must kiss her, and she answered: ''If 
you succeed it will be your luck." I might have stolen a kiss, but 
I did not consider such a kiss, a kiss, for it is not difficult to kiss 
somebody who does not expect it. I wanted it differently, I 
wanted her to allow herself to be kissed willingly. And thus days 
passed and I could invent nothing. [In the last days of carnival 
he disguises himself as a girl and enters the house of Zofia.] I 
inquired whether the mother of Mr. K. who was a baker in Czf sto- 
chowa lived there. "Yes," answered Miss Zofia's mother, "I 
am his mother, and this is his sister." — "I am very glad to make 
your acquaintance," I said, and I began to greet them in the 
feminine way. I kissed Miss Zofia straight on the lips, her mother 
on the hand, and as soon as I did it, I began to laugh at Miss Z. 
for kissing me. Miss Z. was a little ashamed, but called me a 
cheater and a thief. In this way I reached my aim with Miss 
Zofia and got a kiss from her. 

* He develops the Don Juan attitude, ''profiting" from every girl he 
meets. Vanity plays as important a role as the sexual impulse, since, in the 
present case, ''getting a kiss" becomes a point of honor. Success of this kind 
becomes an easy substitute for a career, and it is probable that if Wladek had 
lived in a city, affording much opportunity of change, and if he had had a 
secure position, his life would have limited itself to this sphere. It is char- 
acteristic that the Don Juan attitude is developed either among the leisure 
class, whose position is already secure, among employees, whose position is 
secure, but affords little opportunity to rise, or among artists, whose ambition 
is never satisfied. 



^^o THE POLISH PEASANT 

Two weeks later I wandered to Koto with a smaller sum of 
money than from Kutno. For in Kro^niewice I kept company 
with the sons of Mr. B. and spent money, playing with them the 
role of a gentleman. I not only spent everything I earned but 
I touched even those 17 roubles which I brought from Kutno, 
and had less than 14 roubles after having worked for more than 
ten weeks. I quarreled with the cook on the day of leaving, for 
she had done much slandering. I almost struck her with my stick, 
only Mr. B. hindered me. Such thanks she had from me. I did not 
regret that I left Kro§niewice, for I should have become disso- 
lute. 

During my stay at Kro§niewice I wrote no letters anywhere 
and received no letters from anybody. Now I resolved to stay 
until Easter in Straszkowo and to rest, and after the holidays to 
wander further into the world. With this plan I was in Straszkowo 
two days later. I was received at first very kindly, but when 
Stach learned that I intended to spend five weeks he began to 
grumble, saying that he had enough persons to feed and could 
hardly earn enough for them, and here I came also to eat his food. 
For really there was misery in his house, and mother was in a 
very bad condition. Although father sent home his salary and 
sister Marya earned a little also, all this was not enough. For 
of course Stach did not give his whole salary to mother, but kept 
more than half for himself, and his salary was 21 roubles a month. 
More than once they had to cat dry bread with coffee, for there 
was no money to buy butter. When I got acquainted with the 
situation I decided to leave as soon as possible and went on the 
next day to Lubotyii, to my brother-in-law. There I intended 
to spend a few days, return to Straszkowo, take my clothes and 
start wherever my eyes would carry me. Today it was twice as 
bad for me as formerly. Formerly I had at least a home where 
I could rest after the labors of the journey, and today even this 
was lost to me; I had no home any longer and I had no right to 
say that I was going to my brother. I felt very pained that my 
parents, through their own carelessness, must be now a charge 
and divided. This was not good for the children, for they had 
no place to tend and no shelter of their own. Although my 
brother was not bad he was only a brother, not parents.' But 
I had no way out of it. 

' The last function of the family is to give a '*home," a refuge to the mem- 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 271 

Reflecting thus, I went to Lubotyn. The road was good, for 
spring came early. Often I met farmers plowing their beds in the 
fields and heard their merry calls. Those calls were accompanied 
by voices of larks somewhere on high. It was pleasant to journey 
at such a time, but not for me, who went thinking profoundly, 
with tears in my eyes. I did not care for the beauties of nature.' 
I was not a child any longer. *'Next year I shall be called to draw 
the lot for military service and certainly I shall go, for who will 
intercede in my favor? Perhaps it will be even better for me if 
they take me," I thought, "for when I come back I shall perhaps 
get some governmental place and I shan't need then to tramp so 
much. Perhaps I shall even take my parents to me? Well, it 
will be what God gives." ' I raised my head and went somewhat 
more rapidly, for evening was near. 

In Lubotyn I went almost every day to Mr. and Mrs. D. for 
tea. Kazia was very friendly toward me, but she did not try to 
persuade me to marry this time. Mrs. D. never called me other- 
wise than "my son-in-law," and seriously promised me to give 
me her Kazia as wife after the drawing of the lots, if I was not 
taken to the army. Now no boy called on the D.'s and they 
spent their time sadly. On the fifth day I left Lubotyfi and I 
did not know that I was leaving Kazia for years; neither she nor 
I supposed it. 

Without incidents I came to Straszkowo and prepared to 
leave. But I did not know myself where to go. I left with Stach 
ever3rthing I had. I gave him those shoes of shining leather, 
and the next day I was ready to start. I had no money either. 
I gave mother a few roubles, I gave a little to my younger brothers 



ber who, even after the dissolution or rejection of the stable milieu, needs a 
point of permanence to which he may return after his wandering. It is 
interesting that the traditional heaven, with God the father, expresses 
primary group need. The sinner is merely a heavenly tramp of whom the 
hope is cherished that *Mf goodness lead him not, yet weariness may to* 
him" back to the heavenly home. We no longer have homesickness and a 
poetry of the home because wandering has assumed the character of nor- 
mality. 



18 



' His complete absorption by practical problems hinders his enjoyment 
of nature as it hindered him in romance and sexual pleasure. 

" He is at this point content to resign an actively regulated career and 
accept a passively regulated stability. 



272 THE POLISH PEASANT 

and sisters, and finally no more than i rouble was left in my pocket. 
Meanwhile father came on a visit. He brought a small bottle 
which we emptied, mother, father and I, for Stach was gone to 
Kolo to his betrothed. During this evening father said clearly 
to me: '^Do you know, Wladek, although you are the poorest, 
I love you the most." These words of my father astonished me 
much, for it was the first time that I heard from him anything like 
this. He told me to write more often than I had up to the present. 
I started in the direction of Konin. I had never yet been in this 
direction, so I resolved to try my luck there. . . . Having found 
no work in Konin, I started the next day toward Shipca. But I 
had hardly gone a few wiorsta when I overtook a man with a 
crooked leg. I went along with him and tried to start a conversa- 
tion. "Where are you going?" — "To Prussia," answered the 
peasant. "Tell me how is it in this Prussia, better than in our 
Poland?" — "It is not better, but one can earn more. There 
I earn easily 50 roubles during a summer, and sometimes more." 

— "And have you been gomg to Prussia for a long time?" — "For 
some years. What I earn during the summer I spead during the 
winter." — "Are you not married?" — "No, I live with my 
brother. When I come from Prussia, I give him the money and 
he gives me to eat during the winter. For even if I wanted to 
marry, where is the girl who would take such a crooked man?" — 
"And you give all your money to your brother?" — "Oh no, I 
always keep a little for myself, I have already 200 roubles lent to 
a farmer at interest." — "And it won*t be lost?" — "No, I have 
a note." — "And tell me, could I get through the frontier?" — 
"Why not, if you have a passport?" — "I know it, but I have 
precisely no passport." — "Hum! Then you must go during the 
night. If you succeed it's all right." — "And if I don*t succeed?" 

— "Then they will lead you to your communal ofiice by etapes 
[from prison to prison], you will sit a little in prison, and that is 
all." — "And could you not sell me your passport? You can 
get another." — "Why not? I can sell it." [Gets the passport 
for 3 roubles, selling his watch to a Jew for 9 rb. 50, and takes 
the name of the crippled peasant, Jan Jacek. At the frontier 
there are hundreds of others.] About an hour after I gave my 
passport up another window opened and a second ofiicial began 
to call the names. When my turn came he called: "Jan Jacek." 

— "He is here," I answered. — "How old? From what com- 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 273 

mune?" When I answered correctly he gave me the passport, 
which I received with joy. Perhaps a hundred steps away from 
the control-building was the frontier. When I approached an 
official inspected the passport and when he saw that everything 
was in order, he dropped the chain and I passed the frontier. Only 
now I began to walk upright, for up to the present I had pretended 
to be crippled. 



In Strzalkowo, the first Prussian town, there were people like 
ants. Some of them had already waited days for their " Forsch' 
nitier** [who makes the contracts and takes them to work]. There 
were even those who had waited for a week or two, and they were 
in an awful misery, for all their provisions were exhausted and they 
had nothing to eat. For sleeping, barracks were established three 
stories high, and straw was laid as if for cattle. I went through 
all the floors in search of any familiar face, but I did not succeed. 
So I took my coat off and sat upon it, for there was no question of 
sleeping; the crying of children, the playing of accordeons did 
not allow it. From darker comers came laughing, puling and 
heavy puffing, and all this proved that the people there were not 
lazy, but profited of the opportunity to foolish. In a word, these 
barracks could be called a house of revelry, and the whole of 
Strzalkowo, with these barracks and taverns, an ante-chamber of 
hell. The temptation came to me to throw myself into this 
maddened throng and to share with them this inhuman revelry. 
I tried to get acquainted with some boys, but I did not succeed; 
whenever I asked one about anything he answered, looked at me 
and went away. They despised [neglected] me, and I did not 
know why; perhaps because I was too decently dressed in their 
opinion. In the morning I noticed a woman crying. This woman 
held on her arm a child less than two years old. Pity took me 
and I approached, asking her why she was crying. She answered 
that she had been there for some days with her husband, they had 
spent all their money and now had nothing to live on. "Yester- 
day I did not eat during the whole day, nor the child either, and 
we cry because we are hungry." [Buys herrings for her and puts 
half a mark in the hand of the child.] After this I listened during 



274 THE POLISH PEASANT 

the whole day to the peasants coming to an agreement with the 
Forschnitter. Some of these ForschnitUrs took 200 or more people 
each, and I never heard them sending away less than fifty. They 
left with these people, and in their place new ones came, while 
in the place of the workmen who went away twice as many flowed 
in. In this way more and more were crowded into this ante- 
chamber of hell. So I began to reflect whether to return to my 
country or to go further into Prussia. I did npt know the German 
language, I had no idea whether the bakers here gave gisxynk or 
not, and on the money which I had I could not go far. For when 
I entered Strzalkowo I had 6 roubles, and now only half of this 
was left. So if I stayed here three days longer I should be left 
without a grosz. "What shall I do? What shall I do?" I broke 
my head thinking. Perhaps I should also hire myself to some 
ForschniUer as farm-laborer, get acquainted with the Prussian 
customs, and then — whatever God gives. . . . Only on the 
fourth day I decided positively to hire myself on a farm, and with 
this aim I began to turn still more about the ForschniUer and to 
pay attention to them. One of them pleased me, and as soon as 
he settled the matter with some peasants I approached and said: 
"Mr. ForschnitUry perhaps you will take me also to work." He 
looked at me attentively and asked who I was. Evidently I had 
to lie, for I was sure that he would not take a baker to work. So 
I said: "I am the son of a poor farmer. My father has three 
morgs of land, so it is difiicult to live on it, and I resolved to go to 
work. You have pleased me, and I beg you to take me with you." 
This ForschniUer took a pinch of snuff-tobacco and said: "All 
right, I can take you, but why do you lie? Tell the truth, who 
you are, then I will take you. But why should we talk here? 
Come to the tavern, there you will tell me the truth." And we 
went. My ForschniUer drank a glass of vodka to me [inviting 
him to drink] and told me to sit at the table and eat some sausage. 
I did all this and at the same time reflected how to lie better, that 
he might believe me. And when he asked me for the second time 
who I was, my answer was ready. I said: "You must be not a 
stupid man since you recognized at once that I had lied." — "What 
do you think? Did I eat bread from a single oven? I know 
people at once." — "Well, you see, ForschniUer^ I was a farm- 
clerk in my country, I quarreled with the manager and fled abroad. 
Now, if you wish, believe me; if you don't wish, don't believe it, 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 275 

but I have told the whole truth." — "Well, now it is diflFercnt and 
not difficult to believe, for you look like such a scribbler. And 
I need such a man, for I have 150 people and I don't know how to 
write Polish rapidly, or how to count, for I learned in a German 
school, and you will be useful. You will get one mark a day 
now, and in the summer one and a half. Do you agree?" — "If 
you pay everybody as much why should I ask more?" — "Well, 
then, give your passport." But as it was written in Russian he 
could not read it. Only the name, province and commune were 
written in German also, but not the age and not that I was crippled. 
The Forschnitter treated me to a dinner, a few glasses of vodka and 
beer, and led me to the barracks where those 150 people were 
separated from the rest, and he said: "I bring you one more, he 
will be your clerk." 

I sat aside and began to observe my companions. There were 
forty girls, about sixty boys, and the rest grown-up men and ten 
women. They all sat in groups, drinking vodka and eating her- 
rings. One of them played the accordeon. I sat for a long while 
aside, but as I was very tired with loneliness during these last 
days, I arose, approached a peasant with big whiskers and began 
to talk to him. "Do you know," I asked, "how long we shall 
travel to this farm?" — "I don't know how long, but it is rather 
far, in Pomerania." And I put some more questions, so that the 
man became talkative, and finally he invited me to his bottle and 
treated with vodka and herring. Meanwhile a few boys ap- 
proached, and the acquaintance was made. Those boys took me 
among them and began to treat me. I did not want to accept it 
at first, for I knew this proverb: "Peter, Paul, whatever is your 
name, you drank other people's, give yours," and I could not 
give mine, for I had less than 2 marks in my pocket and I must 
keep it for my journey. The most sympathetic of the boys was 
Franek, who knew how to play the accordeon. He took me by 
the arm and led me into the tavern, and after us came two other 
boys and they did not spare pfennigs for liquor. I became nicely 
tipsy in their company, for although I did not give mine, still 
I did not want to refuse theirs, for I wanted now to have as many 
friends as possible. This proverb also was not strange to me: 
"Whoever goes among crows, let him croak like them," so I 
wanted to be like my companions. We returned to the main 
company where some were playing cards. Soon I had a mark in 



276 THE POLISH PEASANT 

my pocket and ceased to play, for the boys called me to them. 
Enough that I succeeded in gaining sympathy and everybody 
knew me and called me '* Jacek.'' Although some of them began 
to call me **siT" I did not allow them, saying, ^^I am just such a 
*sir' as you. Call me Jacek." And thus I remained Jacek. 
Two girls pleased me rather well and I sat down near them, telling 
them various anecdotes. Finally the whole throng surrounded 
us, listening to what I was relating. In this way time passed 
till one o'clock at night, when the Forschnitiet came and took us 
to the station. The ForschniiUr*s name was Moraski, and so I 
will call him. Well, Moraski showed us the cars in which to 
mount, and the mounting began. I wanted to go where most of 
the boys were gathered, for I calculated that it would be merrier 
with them, but I got accidentally alone with three girls, for the 
divisions were such that no more than five persons could sit in 
one. If they had been at least a little prettierl But I got just 
among the least attractive ones. 

We traveled long, two nights and a day. In the beginning 
I felt somewhat constrained but gradually I became bolder and 
behaved as at home. I took off my coat and collar and began to 
joke with the girls, who were very eager for this. To say the 
truth, they were also somewhat ceremonious in the beginning, 
but soon grew tractable. I sat near the window, drew out my 
inseparable ocarina and began to play a little, but they did not 
allow it, and began to jest madly, and moreover to pronounce 
various ugly words which I won't repeat here, for although I am 
a man I am simply ashamed to repeat them. So I made no cere- 
monies with them either and behaved very brutally, as they 
merited. They were not old, for the oldest was no more than 
nineteen, but they were already well driven through Prussia, 
every one knew what a man was and had foolished more than 
once. I would have foolished also, but I was ashamed to do it 
in the presence of other girls, for if I had foolished with one, two 
more would have looked at it. Why, I was a man, not a beast! 
But they tried to persuade me, and told me not to be ashamed, for 
they said themselves that they knew it already. And they raised 

their petticoats and exhibited their ^ wanting to give me thus 

more appetite, but instead of appetite I got more and more aver- 
sion. I should have preferred to find myself among beasts rather 
than among these, as I may call them, she-devils. I felt toward 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 277 

them an awful aversion and could not look at them without 
disgust. Why, I was no longer an innocent child, but I had no 
idea of such shamelessness. I prayed to God that we might come 
to our destination as soon as possible. When I was tired and 
wanted to sleep I leaned my head against my arm in order to 
doze a little, but they did not allow me to do it. I was already in 
an extreme wrath, when the train stopped, and I jumped out in 
order to find another place, but I had no time. The next night 
two of them lay down upon the floor and slept fast, and one, as 
if intentionally sent by Satan, began to tempt me to foolish with 
her. She put her hand saucily into the slit and took me by the 
member. I did not want to beat her, for I was afraid of the con- 
sequences, so in order to get rid of her I satisfied her desire, and 
only then she calmed herself a little and slept. I followed her 
example, but when I awoke I could not recognize mysdf, for I 
had neither trousers nor drawers, and stood only in my shirt and 
vest. Moreover, they did not want to give them back at once, 
but concealed them. And thus I had to sit naked. I was finally 
obliged to humiliate myself by begging them to give me the 
trousers and drawers back. They did it, but I had to give them 
my word that I would foolish with the two others [which he does]. 
I shall never forget what I lived through during these thirty hours, 
so profoundly these three companions were driven into my 
memory.* 

The town in which we stopped was called Anklam, and thence 
we had still nine kilometers to travel. Big carts spread over with 
straw were waiting for us. We drove rapidly and soon we saw 
the village, but before the village two carts turned to the right 
and drove to another farm. Fifty persons went to this other 
farm, and I noticed that among them were my three companions. 
I was very glad that I should not have these disgusting girls 
before my eyes, for whenever I remembered them my skin shivered. 

We arrived soon in this village, Stolp, as I learned later, was 

^ There is a certain number of girls of this kind among the season workers 
(just as there is a certain number of drunkards among boys) and some of them 
become prostitutes in German cities. It is not, as in the case of servant and 
factory girls, a mere dropping of the familial attitude towards sexual matters, 
which leaves still a certain degree of modesty and moderation and brings 
with it simply an a-moral standpoint, excluding the idea of evil, but excluding 
cynicism as well. This explains why Wladek, who had had so many relations 
without the romantic attitude, still feels so disgusted in this case. 



278 THE POLISH PEASANT 

its name, and drove before a big two-story barracks of brick. 
[Describes the sleeping-conditions and food, sour milk, potatoes, 
black coffee, with no sugar, bread and grease.] In the morning we 
went into the farmyard and there Moraski gave a new pitchfork 
to each one of those who had none, but everybody had to pay for 
them, for everybody was obliged to have his own. So for the 
first time in my life I was the owner of a pitchfork. After half 
an hour we came upon a meadow and had to scatter earth about, 
so we began to carry it about, some with shovels, some with pitch- 
forks. . . . The rain did not stop, but, on the contrary, increased 
every moment. Water poured from everybody, but it was more 
easy for them to bear, for they were used to it. For me it was a 
real torture. I shook from cold, my teeth chattered, as in fever, 
tears came to my eyes, rolled down my cheeks and fell upon the 
German meadow. Again my whole life stood before my eyes, 
and I could not keep from crying. Moraski stood, leaned against 
a short pitchfork, covered with a rubber overcoat, water poured 
from his hat, the wind flapped his overcoat, but he stood immobile, 
as if carved in stone. And in general everybody looked rather 
bad, even the boys stopped laughing and joking, which seldom 
happened. But certainly nobody of them felt as pained as I, 
and nobody had such ideas as I on this cold, windy, rainy March 
morning. I intended already to ask Moraski to permit me to go 
home, for I was unable to hold out any longer, when suddenly a 
whistle was heard and the voice of Moraski: " Fruhstuck.^^ At 
this word everybody left his tool and squatted wherever he could 
in order to eat a piece of bread, wet with rain. I followed their 
example and put my hand into the pocket of my overcoat, but 
instead of bread I drew dough. When I drew it and held it in 
my hand, I looked strangely upon it and suddenly it got dark 
before my eyes and I swooned. When I awoke two boys held 
me under the arms and Moraski stood before me and asked what 
had happened to me. "I don't know," I answered and looked 
around, not yet quite conscious. They all stood around me and 
observed me. After a while I recovered consciousness, thanked 
the boys and asked Moraski to permit me to go home. He per- 
mitted me, I took my pitchfork under my arm and left the meadoW. 
Wet, ashamed, I dragged myself home, crying aloud the whole 
way. Such was my first morning's work in Prussia. 

[Buys rubber boots and continues to work. Cannot eat the 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 279 

food and buys at the tavern on credit up to 10 marks.] Soon 
sowing began in the field, and every day some boys went to the 
granary to pour grain [into sacks]. I went also, when my turn 
came. In the granary the men were inspected by the clerk, a 
young man, about twenty-eight. At the first look he began to 
sympathize with me, and after that I never went into the field, 
but worked in the farm-yard, either in the granary, or in the 
butter-shop. I was, indeed, for a few days in the field during 
harvest and during the plowing also. For I had to go behind the 
plow. But the plowers were inspected by a field-steward, a 
German, an old man, but good and patient, for he spent more 
than an hour in teaching me how to plow. Later he walked with 
me and related about the Franco-Prussian war, in which he had 
taken part. I did not understand everything, it is true, but he 
explained until I understood. In this way we spent many days, 
while I plowed, and I learned many curious things from him. 
Soon I liked him greatly, and he liked me also. He even treated 
me with his chewing tobacco. Of course I did not use this, but 
I accepted in order not to offetid him and put it into my mouth, 
but when I noticed that he was not looking I spit out this pig's 
stuff. 

But I come back to this clerk. He knew no Polish, so in the 
beginning it was difficult to understand each other. On the first 
day he began to inquire who I was, what I did in my country, and 
why I came to Prussia to work. I told him the whole truth. The 
clerk listened to my story and told me to come again the next 
day to the granary. But I told him that we were going there in 
turn. He wrote a few words to Moraski, and I went there every 
day. There were many days when I went to the granary when 
there was no work at all. On such days we sat down together 
and he taught me how various things were called. When his 
duties called him elsewhere he closed the granary and told me to 
lie down on the grain sacks. [The clerk invites hil!% to his house, 
sends to Berlin for a German-Polish language book, and teaches 
him German somewhat systematically.] 

When the sowing was finished and I had really nothing to do 
at the granary, the clerk sent me to the stable where some hundreds 
of cows stood. My whole occupation was to drive the milk to the ' ^^ 
dairy. But when they went into the pasture I loafed about the 
yard. I got acquainted with a few German girls who worked in 



28o THE POLISH PEASANT 

the dairy and with a rather pretty maid who served in the in- 
spector's house. For the proprietor of this estate was dead long 
ago, his wife lived in some big city, and the only master on both 
farms was the inspector, a widower. The maid was of Polish 
origin, from Posen, but she did not know any Polish. Her name 
was Ludwika. I profited much from this Ludwika, for she often 
brought me a piece of hare or duck, sometimes a bottle of beer 
under her apron, and whatever she could. She invited me 
to come to her room; I promised, but did not go, for I feared 
the inspector, and thus days passed with promises. But I re- 
solved to go to her as soon as I learned better German, and so it 
happened. 

Meanwhile Easter came. We celebrated only one holiday, 
but we celebrated it merrily. Some boys and girls went to the 
inspector asking him for permission to dance. Moraski himself 
sold at such times beer in bottles, for he had a little profit on it. 
When the feast had begun Moraski whistled, and when the music 
stopped, he said: ''Let everybody take a bottle of beer on my 
account." Then the men ordered brandy and began to drink, 
Moraski with them. When he was pretty tipsy, he called : ''Jacek ! 
Where is Jacek? Call him, let him come to me!" They did 
not need to call me, for I stood quite near and heard it. I ap- 
proached and asked him what he wanted. He answered nothing, 
but poured about half a beer-glass of Schnaps, But I said: 
''What are you doing? I cannot drink so much at once, for I 
should get drunk." — "What does it matter, Jacek, if you get 
drunk? It is a holiday, and moreover you are my clerk and must 
drink." What a clerk I was! Besides having read the passports 
I did absolutely nothing in his office. But what could be done? 
Let it be! So I took this brandy and drank it to the bottom, and 
it "roared" in my head, and I began to sing Polish songs. Before 
this I had drunk some beers and brandies, but not for my own 
money, for there had been no payment yet, only many people 
treated me. From almost every boy something was due to me; 
for one I wrote a letter, for another I copied a song, for a third 
I wrote wishes; another treated me so that I would tell him some 
nice story the next day, another still in order only to drink with 
Jacek. So I was everywhere the first, and when I became some- 
what tipsy I forgot who and where I was and the old gaiety came 
back to me, for all these people behaved delicately toward me 



UFE-REOORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 281 

and I tried also to get into nobody's way, and so I was well o£F.' 
When the cows went to the pasture hundreds of hens, cocks, 
turkeys came to scrape in the troughs and my duty was to drive 
them away that they might not make dirt in the troughs. Once 
I threw a stick so unhappily that I killed a big cock. I was 
awfully frightened and looked rapidly about, whether anybody 
had noticed; but happily there was nobody near. I took the 
cock quickly and threw him before the stable, reflecting about the 
accident, and afraid somebody would guess that it was I who killed 
him. I kept my eye upon him and waited for what would happen. 
After a short time the inspector passed near the stable, swore, 
kicked the cock, and seeing me through the door, called me and 
told me to throw him away lest the other poultry become infected. 
I took him and concealed him, and in the evening I cleaned him, 
bought grease and roasted him and began to eat him. Every- 
body laughed at me for eating a carrion cock, but I did not get 
disgusted, only gnawed the bones. And I took such a taste to 
this cock that I killed a fowl almost every day. I threw them in 
a different place every time, so that nobody would have any 
suspicion that they were killed intentionally. So I did not need 
now to buy any bacon or sausage.' The cook lent me a pot and 
sometimes roasted the fowl herself, but ate none of it, for she was 
disgusted that it died from sickness. Everybody thought the 

' Nothing could show better the importance of social recognition than this 
period of WUdek's life. Away from his family' and country, in a work strange 
to him, with no romantic interests and without the slightest possibility of a 
career, the satisfaction that his- desire for recognition obtains from this crowd 
of people who recognize his superiority is enough to oifset all this. 

* "Taking things to eat" is not a serious matter, and Wladek does not 
feel that he is violating a moral norm but simply overstepping a practical 
prescription. The two types of regulation are easily distinguishable. Au- 
thority can be the source of only the second type of attitude, for which we 
may use the term, "feeling of legality," while the "feeling of morality" is 
produced only by social opinion. This distinction is shown by the whole 
peasant life. Centuries of influence of state and church have not succeeded 
in provoking anything more than the feeling of legality with regard to actions 
that have no sanction in the interior life of the community, while even the 
seemingly most trifling actions enjoying this sanction are the object of the 
moral attitudes of the individual. Of course an action prescribed by authority 
may acquire with time the sanction of social opinion and then provoke a 
moral attitude, as in the case of the Chinese cue; but there must be some 
factors added to this evolution. 



4 



282 THE POLISH PEASANfT 

same, and I tried to make them still more certain of it. If there 
had been only one clever person among them he would have guessed 
my trick, but there were no such persons among my companions, 
so Ii did not need to fear too much anything or anybody. 

[Urged often by Ludwika to go to her room, "but I could not 
decide, for *fear has big eyes,* and I feared the inspector." In 
the absence of the inspector, goes, but "I took letter paper and 
an envelope, for if any one found me in the room I would say that 
I came to get her to write me a letter in German." Ludwika 
serves brandy and food.] I talked, and reflected in my mind how 
to act with her, whether to begin to foolish or not. For on the 
one hand if I tried perhaps she would make a noise and I could 
find myself in an unpleasant situation, but on the other hand, I 
thought, why did she invite me to her; she was not a child any 
longer not to know what a man was, and still she feared nothing. 
Moreover she closed all the doors and windows. I looked at the 
window on the back side of the manor-house and thought that in 
case she began to clamor loudly I would jump out of this window, 
and I settled the whole plan of activity and prepared myself for 
everything possible. [Persuades her easily.] But on the way 
home I had enough to think about, for Ludwika did not allow me 
to foolish with her before I told her that I would stay here through 
the winter and marry her. A nice career — to marry a maid- 
servant, and a nice and enviable job — to become a driver on a 
Prussian farm! And the stupid girl believed me! But I was 
probably not the first who had promised her this and I shan't 
be the last. I laughed at the naive and silly girl, for I did not lose 
anything by it; on the contrary, I had profit, for I could eat and 
drink well, and this cost me nothing, and I had a girl for my need, 
which means something also, and not everybody succeeds 
thus.' So I went three times a week to Ludwika, who gave 
me meat enough, and therefore I did not need to kill fowls so 
often. 

I wrote letters to my family and I received answers to them to 

' His standards of sexual life sink lower and lower. In the beginning 
they were more or less romantic, mixed with social interests; then gradually 
dissociated from other interests as pure physiological pleasure; finally no 
longer sufficient in themselves but demanding to be supplemented by the 
additional pleasures of food and drink. One further step and we should reach 
the level of the "cadet." 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 283 

my assumed name. They were greatly astonished that I was 
working on a farm, but what could they do? I did not write 
an)rwhere to my acquaintances, for I did not want them to know 
that I was in Prussia, for I was awfully ashamed that I had to 
work as a parobek. Meanwhile I received a second letter from 
brother Stanisiaw, who informed me about very important things 
which were happening in the Kingdom — that the constitution 
was proclaimed in the country, that people organized meetings, 
spoiled Russian inscriptions and tore Russian eagles down. And 
on the side of the government innumerable arrests and banish- 
ments to Siberia. " It is well that you left the country," he wrote, 
"for I don't know what could have happened to you here. There 
were constables to take me, but happily I succeeded in hiding 
myself. I don't teach the children any more, for people want 
their children to be taught only in Polish. I wrote to the direction 
about it and they told me to close the school for some time. There 
is no Russian eagle before the school any more, for the peasants 
have destroyed it with stones. I had to conceal the picture of the 
tsar, for the same lot would have befallen it. I stay now seldom 
at home over night, fearing a raid of the constables. Mr. and Mrs. 
D. don't live in Lubotyii any longer, for the peasants have driven 
them away. It happened thus. When the constitution was pro- 
claimed the peasants persuaded their children to talk Polish in 
the school. So when the children gathered in the school and Mr. 
D. said the prayer with them, he said in Russian: 'Take Russian 
books and hefts.' Then Genia Z., a twelve-year-old daughter of 
the game-keeper, said: * Children, take the Polish books and hefts.' 
And all the children listened to her. Mr. D. repeated his order for 
the second and third times, but Genia repeated the same in Polish 
as many times. Then Mr. D. got angry and led Genia out of 
the school. She went and related it to her father, he gathered 
some dozen peasants, they broke everything in the school, threw 
the teacher with his family and all the furniture upon the street, 
and nailed the doors and windows of the school. Mr. D. had to 
spend the whole night upon the street, only the next day he was 
taken to the commune-office where his family lived for some days. 
He went to the direction and got another place in Domaniewo. 
I pitied Mr. and Mrs. D. much, for they were like my second 
parents." "Poor people," I thought, "why did they let things 
come to this, that they were driven away from their house and 



284 THE POUSH PEASANT 

had to spend the night upon the street* Shall I ever see them 
again?"* 

[Some of the workmen find nets set in canals, and persuade 
'' Jacek" to lead an expedition to steal the fish. He writes boast- 
fully, but he managed it stupidly, going in a boat instead of afoot. 
Pursued, but escaped with enough fish for everybody. Make 
four expeditions in all, and also steal a net, to fish in the manorial 
pond.] ' And again days flowed monotonously. I was calling 
every day upon the clerk, who taught me well enough how to read 
and to write. Both the clerk and Ludwika were sure that I 
would not return to my country. Only the clerk persuaded me to 
go to Berlin, and Ludwika to stay in Stolp and to marry her. I 
promised the clerk and Ludwika alike, but I did not know posi- 
tively myself what I would do. I knew only that I would not 
stay in Stolp and still less marry Ludwika, but I did not betray 
myself to her. For among our girls there were also some who 
would marry me willingly and, as they said, they were rich enough 
at home, had a few morgs of land and would get some dowry. 
One of them thought seriously about it and I must agree that she 
was a decent girl and I never noticed her anywhere with boys. 
Her name was Jozia, and she was here with her brother Franek. 
Her brother was twenty-two and she was nineteen years old. I 
was in friendly relations with Franek, for he wanted, as he said, 
to learn songs from me. He knew neither how to write nor to 
read. He ordered his sister to wash my linen and she had done 
it for some time; whenever she washed hers she came to me for 
mine to wash. Soon people ''took us upon their tongues" and 
called us engaged, but neither she nor I cared anything for it. 
For my part, I took nothing from the brother or the sister for 
writing letters or anything else of this kind. Jozia knew a little 
how to read written characters, so I copied for her a few songs 
which she learned during the dancing. 

I danced mostly with Jozia. For I must mention that almost 

' This 18 a particularly inspiring moment in Polish history, but neither 
here nor elsewhere does Wladek show more than a perfunctory interest in 
social or national problems. He is exclusively occupied with his own per^ 
sonality and finds nothing interesting for himself in the letter of Stach except 
the news about the D. family, and his sympathy is here with them and not 
with the patriotically inspired peasants. 

* Cf. p. 281, note 2. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 285 

every girl had her adorer with whom it was possible to meet her 
in any corner suited to foolishing. But I did not try to do this, 
for I had enough, up to my ears, from Ludwika, and here I only 
observed the others and came to the conclusion that it was impos- 
sible to live more dissolutely than these Polish young people did 
who came to Prussia for work.^ And this work did not bring 
much profit to them, for the girls wasted their heavily earned 
money on dresses, while the boys spent more than a half of it on 
drinking. And if they had only drunk themselves! But they 
poured it into others' throats. Here they enjoyed the world, 
nobody guarded them, there was neither father nor mother nor 
priest, nobody to fear, for everybody was the master of his own 
person, listened to nobody, feared nobody. And sometimes it 
was possible to hear the exclamation of some boy at such a dancing- 
party: "Revel, soul, there is no hell!" And more than one of 
them did not know that he was sitting already in the hell up to 
his ears [was damped]. There were exceptions, it is true, but it 
would be necessary to burn a dozen candles to find them. 

To tell the truth, I was not much better than the others, for 
I poured into my throat also, and not behind my collar, and I 
ran after girls as others did. But I did all this with reflection, for 
if I had not jumped like them [allusion to proverb: "Who gets 
among goats must jump like them"], I could not have been and 
worked with them.' But please, dear reader, ask some companion 
of my work, man or girl, how many moral lectures I gave them 
every day, how many instructive stories, how many examples and 
anecdotes not less instructive. And they sighed during my narra- 
tion, more than one girl wiped a tear secretly, the boys decided 
to be different, but all this lasted only as long as I talked, and when 
we broke up it was the same as before. It happened that those 
who did not go to the church on Sunday went upon the meadow, 
and sat down, I among them, and I made efforts to tell them some- 
thing exemplary. And I did it not worse than the priest in 
Anklam, for I knew the gospel for almost every Sunday, and I 

' We must remember that moat of these sexual relations are preliminary 
to marriage. 

' Again the unconscious selection of the side of things favorable to the 
subject's self-appreciation. He does not realize that with his egotism, cal- 
culation and hypocrisy he is more immoral than the/, with their naive en- 
joyment of life. 



286 THE POLISH PEASANT 

lectured to my companions. But they profited no more than if 
I threw peas against a wall. More than once Mr. and Mrs. 
Moraski were present, and the shoemaker and his wife. At these 
times Moraski said: "Jacek talks well," and the shoemaker 
confirmed it. Such talks lasted for a few hours. Jozia and her 
brother omitted none of these discussions, and they both listened 
with attention and tried to act accordingly.' 



Once I was at the clerk's house when an elegant young man 
came to arrange for a dancing party on Sunday. I was intro- 
duced, and after a few glasses of good brandy he invited me to 
come the next day to the dancing-room. "All right, but they 
won*t admit me, for I have no sign that I am invited." Instead 
of answering he took a small colored bow from his pocket-book 
and gave it to me, telling me to fasten it at the left buttonhole of 
my coat on entering the room. I accepted, thanked him and 
promised to come, for I was very curious to see also the better 
German society. The clerk was also to be at this party, with his 
wife, and told me to come certainly. 

When I returned to our house I did not fail to boast that I 
was invited to a ball, which astonished even Moraski, who said: 
"You, Jacek, screw yourself everywhere. This ball has been 

* The development of the self-righteous attitude of the moral preacher 
can be followed here. Its basis is the desire for social recognition. In view 
of the general, willing or unwilling, acceptance of moral standards, and the 
seriousness with which moral problems are treated, the man who seeks recog- 
nition by emphasizing these standards occupies a particularly strong position. 
His recognition becomes in a way compulsory, for any refusal to recognize 
him personally is usually taken as a refusal to recognize the things for which 
he stands. Of course this compulsory character of the recognition makes 
him more or less of a bore, and therefore this means of getting social recog- 
nition is usually selected by men who lack the necessary gifts to get credit, 
not for the things they stand for, but for the things they do. And this also 
makes pharisaism so frequent a fact among moral preachers; when no recog- 
nition can be claimed on account of deeds, words have to secure it. And 
the method is easy with an uncritical crowd like Wladek's hearers; an in- 
tellectual effort is needed to analyze the preacher's actions, while his words 
can be passively received, and find a ready response in the pre-existing tradi- 
tional attitudes. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 287 

here in Stolp every year and they never invited a Pole. Only 
do your best and don't throw shame upon us all." Suddenly 
one of the peasants, named i^lazny, said: ''What does Moraski 
talk! I have not this ribbon and I will go to the ball as well as 
Jacek and will also dance." — "You are stupid, ielazny, you 
won't be admitted there at all." — "What do you say? If you 
don't believe me let us bet." — "All right," answered Moraski, 
"put 5 marks on the table." Then two camps arose; some took 
the side of Moraski, others of !^lazny, who considered himself 
very clever and always disputed with me in every conversation. 
Today he wanted also to show that he was not worse than Jacek 
and would go to the ball. So the parties began to call: "I bet 
for ielazny!" "I bet for Moraski!" and each of them added 
I mark to the 10 marks which lay upon the table. Soon 18 marks 
lay upon the table on each side.' So Moraski told the shoe- 
maker to take charge of these 36 marks, and the money of the 
side which lost was to be spent on drink next Sunday afternoon. 
I belonged to no party. I guarded my sign so that i^lazny or 
somebody of his party might not steal it. The shoemaker and 
the musician were appointed as witnesses of this whole business. 

On Sunday, when the boat landed, the party came off to the 
sound of music. At one look it was possible to recognize that all 
of them belonged to the better society, for their movements and 
dress betrayed it.* There were perhaps fifty persons, more ladies 
than gentlemen. When the whole party disappeared behind the 
door of the tavern, Moraski said: "Well, idaizny^ which one 
pleased you. With whom will you dance." — "Don't laugh, for 
you will see that you have lost." 

[The clerk passes with his wife and sends a man to call Jacek.] 
I went down and slowly made my way to the dancing-room. I 
was dressed poorly but properly. I had my light Sunday suit, 
without a vest, and a rather beautiful silk shirt which cost me 
3 marks. I carried no collars in Prussia, for there was nobody to 
iron them. The shirt was bound about the neck with silk bows 

* The fact that 2elazny had partisans indicates that he was not the only 
one who took a critical attitude toward Wladek. Thus the popularity of the 
latter was certainly not so general as he seems to claim. Here again he does 
not notice details unfavorable to his vanity. 

"They were people of the petty bourgeoisie, which explains Wladek's 
easy adaptation. 



288 THE POLISH PEASANT 

which were added to it. I had a nice and broad canvas belt with 
pretty clasps. The shoes were not new, the same in which I came, 
but now they looked nice, for I had cleaned them pretty well. 
Upon my head I had a white hat of rice-straw, and the cane which 
I had in my hand completed my dress. Thus clothed I looked 
not the worst at the first sight.' 

I did not go straight to the dancing-room from our house, for 
upon the threshold stood a few ladies and gentlemen and observed 
the Polish girls who stood near. I went around the house without 
being seen and reached the road in the village. Thence I turned 
back toward the dancing-room.' I greeted th '. ladies who stood 
at the entrance and went in. Near the door^^at the manager in 
a paper scarf; he cut a bit of my bow with ,^all scissors. At 
this moment my new acquaintance approach^i, led me further 
and introduced me without omitting anybody. He told every- 
body that I was a Pole and did not talk German very well. This 
function took much time, and when it was over I felt a little 
bolder. My acquaintance left me and I went to the clerk who 
sat with a few gentlemen. I joined the conversation, and secretly 
I looked toward the door to see what idaizny was doing. He 
stood very near the door and sent a curious look inside. The 
dancing had not yet begun. The men were drinking beer and 
smoking cigars; one of them treated me. The beer was free and 
stood in kegs in a corner of the room; there was also a table, and 
upon it brandy, various glasses, a box of cigars, some oranges 
and candies. The gentlemen approached from time to time and 
drank whatever they wanted, but all this went on very decently 
and nobody lingered at the table longer than was necessary to 
drink a glass of beer or brandy. As to the ladies, they were very 
elegantly dressed and had enormous decolletes. After an hour 

* This dance marks the culminating point of Wladek's vanity, and at the 
tame time falls in the period of his life when his intrinsic value is the lowest — 
when he has no determined position, no ideals, and his self-appreciation depends 
exclusively upon his appreciation by others. He must have been received 
by this society as more or less of a curiosity, or at least very indulgently, 
but the most insignificant detail assumes in his eyes a tremendous importance 
and gives food for self-conceit. All the conditions co-operate in the creation 
of a permanent background which constitutes at the present moment one 
of the main features of his character. 

* He was ashamed to let it be known that he came from the barracks. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 289 

one of the men called, "Music! Music!'* Rapidly eight musi- 
cians appeared and played a nice waltz. I noticed that they danced 
in the same way as in our towns, only when the dancer led his 
lady to her seat she courtseyed to him, and he, still holding her 
hand in his, raised both hands and kissed hers. So I was a little 
afraid that I should not be able to perform this with such ease, 
and I observed closely. When I was somewhat sure of myself, 
I invited the clerk's wife, for I reflected that even if I did not do 
something quite right she would forgive me. I acted exactly 
like the others. It went on quite well. I would not have be- 
lieved it myself, but the clerk approached and told me this. His 
praise gave me n^Ore courage, and without reflection I went with 
the lady who sat ' ^ar the clerk's wife. Now I did not observe so 
long but went to nee at once, not with a single lady, but changing 
them often. Wiw . one only I danced somewhat longer, for she 
wished it. This lady's name was M., for I asked her about it during 
the dance. She was tall and rather stout, in eyeglasses, with a very 
large decollete. In dancing she pressed herself very close to the 
dancer, but she danced splendidly. Moreover she was very 
talkative, and when I wanted to seat her she said, "Nochl NochV* 
She was the first with whom I talked a little longer. The clerk 
instructed me to tell everybody who asked me who I was that I 
was practising to be a farm manager. Mrs. M. was very curious 
and asked me what I was doing here. I told her that I was prac- 
tising to be a farm manager. When I seated her she made a place 
for me near her and we talked. During the conversation I learned 
that she was the widow of an official and childless. Now I felt 
no longer bored at this ball for Mrs. M. did not let me go away 
from her. In her company I got better acquainted with other 
ladies; we walked about the room and at once Mrs. M. made 
another man of me. They played also the polka-trotteuse and 
I went first with Mrs. M. She pressed herself against her dancer 
still more in the trotteuse, for this dance requires it. I embraced 
her also more strongly with my arm and during the dance smelled 
the sweat of her body, which struck from her decollete, straight 
into my nose, and her breasts jumped like two balls. Not every- 
body danced the polka-trotteuse, for probably not everybody 
knew it, so there was room enough. The clerk with some other 
gentlemen stood and applauded, and I noticed that up to the 
present he had been satisfied with me. I had scarcely finished 



290 THE POLISH PEASANT 

dancing with one lady when I took another, and they went will- 
ingly, for there were few men and they wanted to dance.' 

During this time I had gathered a dozen cigars which hindered 
me in dancing, and I was not a lover of cigars. So I resolved to 
give them to my companions, and with this intention I went out 
of the room. But my lady, Mrs. M., followed me and caught 
me by the arm, asking where I was going. I explained to her my 
intention and she appreciated it, so I began to draw the cigars 
from my pocket and to give them to the men who stood nearer. 
The nearest one was ^elazny, but he would not accept the cigar; 
he was angry, for up to the present he had not succeeded in doing 
anything. But besides him enough were found who were willing 
and soon I lacked cigars. But Mrs. M. did not think long about 
it; she went into the room, brought the box of cigars which stood 
upon the table and treated those who had not received any. The 
gentlemen, curious to know to whom Mrs. M. was giving cigars, 
and seeing what she did, would not be outdone by her. One of 
the officers ordered the tavern-keeper to give everybody a bottle 
of beer, another a glass of brandy, a third a cigar, and all this 
was very rapidly done. When the tavern-keeper had finished 
we returned to dance. I thanked Mrs. M. for having shown so 
much goodness to my fellow-countrymen and kissed her hand. 
This tickled her pleasantly .' 

[Intermission at five o'clock. Walks with Mrs. M.] We 
went near the Stube and whoever was there came out in order to 
look at me. Moraski was sitting before the house, and when I 
looked at him he twinkled me to approach. I begged my lady's 
pardon and went to ask him what he wanted. But he asked me 
only whether ^elazny had danced. I answered that up to that 
time he had not. Moraski said: "You are getting on pretty 
well, Jacek; this pleases me." My companion tried to make me 

' He was a good dancer and this explains to a large extent his success, 
since at European dancing parties little more is required. The best dancers 
have a social importance during carnival in curious contrast with their in- 
significance the rest of the time. 

* He puts himself for the moment in the middle class and in a way par- 
ticipates in the attitude of benevolent superiority assumed by the dancers. 
That this was the significance of his behavior is shown by the reaction of 
2elazny, who does not accept the cigar and thus implicitly denies Wladek's 
implicit claim, while others by accepting consciously recognize their social 
inferiority. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 291 

bolder, but she succeeded only in part, for I was ashamed that I 
could not talk suitably. She asked me whether I ever went to 
Anklam. "I am there often enough, for I go there to the church." 
— " So perhaps you will call on me sometimes ? I live not far 
from the Polish church." She took a pencil and a bit of paper 
and wrote her address. I promised to come some day, took the 
address and kissed her hand for the second time. I felt very 
constrained with such a lady at my side and thinking about 
myself, who I was at that moment and with whom I was walking. 
Certainly Mrs. M. would push me away from her if she knew that 
I worked at this farm as a ^^Bursch" But perhaps she would 
not? For I felt that at every moment she was pressing my arm, 
and this made me very embarrassed, for she was not a young 
girl, but a lady of about thirty. If I had been with a girl I should 
have acted more boldly and instead of kissing her hand I should 
perhaps have kissed her cheek. Mrs. M. told me that they were 
to leave only at two o'clock and supper was abotit ten. She told 
me to come and take her and we would eat it together, and then 
she joined the other ladies who were already in the room. I 
went to the Stube to wash myself and to shine my shoes. In the 
Stube they all surrounded me and jpraised me. Zelazny and the 
witnesses were also in the room, and Moraski laughed much at 
!^lazny, but the latter still said that he would win, only a little 
later. I returned into the garden and searched for the clerk. 
I found him looking at a group playing cards. He was very glad 
to see me and asked where I had been and how I amused myself. 
I said that I had walked with Mrs. M. and amused myself very 
gaily. "O, Jacek! Jacek! I did not expect that you would amuse 
yourself so nicely." At this moment one of the players left the 
game and the others proposed to me to play. I sat down and the 
clerk was behind me. I don't know how this game was called, 
but we played exactly like "iiij" in our country. One hand cost 
10 pfennigs. To tell the truth this was too big a game for me, 
but I wanted to try my luck. I had in my pocket my whole 
fortune, about 10 marks, and I always had some luck in cards. 
Well, and even if I lose some 3 marks what does it matter? With 
such gentlemen it is not a pity. I must add that these gentlemen 
not only played cards but rapidly emptied bottles of cordial and 
beer. I helped them pretty well, but I had only begun, while 
they had played long enough, so vapor rose from their heads 



I 






292 THE POLISH PEASANT 

and they played without any attention. Meanwhile I played 
very attentively. Soon I felt my pockets swell with pfennigs; 
but there were not only ten-pfennig pieces but also fifty-pfennig 
pieces, and even marks and thalers showed themselves upon the 
table. The clerk stood during the whole time behind my chair 
and looked at the game. I don't know how long this game would 
have lasted, but the darkness hindered us. From the dancing- 
room tones of music had reached us long ago, but I did not dare to 
interrupt the game, for I was winning. Finally an officer threw 
the cards upon the table and rose from his seat. We shook hands 
and the game was finished. When the players left, the clerk shook 
my hand and said, " Jacek du kluk men [kluger Mann]." ' We 
went in the direction of the room. Mrs. M. began to scold us 
for walking while there was nobody to dance. On the way I 
had divided my coins, a little into each pocket, for in one pocket 
they were too heavy and clinked. Before the door of the dancing- 
room stood most of the Poles, and in front ielazny. Up to the 
present he either had not wished or had not dared to enter, al- 
though his partisans pushed him to go in. He was probably 
afraid of that manager with the paper scarf, who sat there con- 
tinually. [Dances "without omitting a single girl."] When I 
had an opportunity, I carried a cigar to Franek, Jozia's brother, 
and asked him why itlaizny did not come to dance. "Tell him 
that supper will be soon and they will stop dancing, for I want him 
to win." [Supper in the garden with Mrs. M.] She began to 
complain that she felt very hot, so I took the fan from her hand 
and began to fan her strongly enough, but I did not forget about 
myself either, for I fanned her twice and myself once. This 
joke amused her, so she took her fan back, took me with 
one hand under the chin and fanned me with the other. 
During this she advanced her face nearer and nearer to mine, 
so that I felt her hot breath and finally her hair got into my 
eyes. I could not hold out, rapidly advanced my head and, 
against my will, kissed her lips. She did not withdraw, only 

' Wladek seems unable to lose self-control in new and extraordinary circum- 
stances. The preservation of poise in the face of new circumstances (aside 
from temperamental differences in the subject) may be the result of one of 
two contradictory pre-existing attitudes — the feeling that one's position is 
so secure that his behavior at the actual moment can in no way endanger it, 
and the feeling that it is so insecure that he must be on the qui vive to preserve 
it. Wladek's poise is the product of his habitual feeling of insecurity. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 293 

raised her eyes and turned around to see whether anybody had 
seen it. 

When we returned to the room some louder movement in the 
room caused me to look around. I saw that the manager was 
holding i^elazny by the hand, idsizny was already in the room, 
and both talked energetically. But soon the manager let i^elazny 
go, and the latter rather ran than walked to the lady who sat the 
nearest and saluted her, although rather clumsily. Alas! he did 
not meet a pitiful one who would have helped him to win his bet. 
She made a denying gesture with her fan and said, "Nein" And 
he could not try his luck with other ladies, for a gentleman took 
him by the arm and led him out of the room. The lady whom 
Zelazny had saluted reddened deeply, but I don't know why; 
perhaps from shame, for everybody looked at her. But one of 
the gentlemen approached and asked her to dance. I went near 
the door to see what ielazny was doing. He still stood there, 
with the real patience of the Polish peasant. He evidently wanted 
to try his luck again. But I was certain that he would not suc- 
ceed, for he had not begun it right, and now the manager watched 
better. I could not warrant that if he had got into the dancing- 
room, some of the ladies would not have danced with him, at 
least for the sake of a joke. If he had entered, stood for awhile 
and tried to choose whom to invite, it would have been better for 
him. But he ran in like a fool and acted like a fool, so he was 
acted with in the same way. 

[Many gentlemen reel from drink. "I had had so many im- 
pressions during the evening that I could not get drunk so easily." 
When the steamboat blows Mrs. M. places a note in his hand. 
Goes with her to the boat.] I went from the boat with the clerk 
and his wife as far as their house, and wanted to leave them, but 
the clerk drew me inside for some warm coffee. The clerk and 
his wife knew no limits in their praise of me. He asked me also 
how much I had won in the garden at cards. "I don't know how 
much, but we shall see at once." And I began to put money 
upon the table, a little from each pocket. I had won 17 marks, 
30 pfennings. The clerk shook his head and said the same as in 
the garden: "Jacek, you are a clever man." His wife asked me 
what the peasant wanted who came into the dancing-room. I 
told about this bet, and they both laughed heartily. I said that 
on Sunday afternoon we would drink for this money. "Then I 



294 THE POLISH PEASANT 

will also come and laugh at ^elazny," said the clerk. He ex- 
plained to me about different persons who were at the ball, and 
also about Mrs. M., for I inquired most about her. But I did 
not learn any more than from herself. 



Next morning I and a few other boys went to the stable for 
horses and I gave myself up to thinking while I rode into the 
field to rake the rye. And I had much to think about after the 
ball of yesterday, for really a strange concurrence of circumstances 
had led me there. And all this through the clerk. I could not 
explain to myself his goodness to me. He taught me to read and 
write German, he invited me constantly to his house and tried 
to give me the easiest work. He made me pass for a practising 
agricultural manager, and through his protection I was at the 
ball. I must add that he had me photographed, and I had sent 
already two of these photographs to my family. And for whom 
did he do all this? For a Burscky a parobek. Why, I was not 
different at all from Wojtek, Franek, or other men and boys who 
were here, and he made the only exception of me.' 

Then I transported myself in thought to this lady whom I 
had the pleasure of kissing a score of times. I owed it also to the 
clerk, for if it had not been for him I should not have known her. 
Here I was reminded of that note she gave me on bidding me good- 
bye. I put my hand into my pocket; but I had left it in the other 

* His growing tuccest with these foreigners is a practical proof of the 
efficiency of the methods he has developed in the course of his life. Those 
methods were particularly methods of adaptation to people in a higher social 
position — the methods of a climber. Compare the insufficient adaptability 
of Wladek's peasant companions whose methods are suitable to let them live 
within a community of equals, and are much more limited in their application, 
the required behavior being more automatized and requiring few new efforts. 
The distinction between active adaptation, profiting from the given conditions 
to enlarge the sphere of control, and passive adaptation, limiting the subjective 
claims to the given conditions, is probably due in a large measure to this 
difference of training. But there are, of course, many methods of active 
adaptation, and the one displayed by Wladek represents the lowest type, 
because its success depends, not upon the individual's efficiency in any par- 
ticular line of activity, but upon his ability to turn other people's activity 
to his own benefit, to attract their benevolent attitudes to himself as object. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 295 

suit. "But what sort of a woman is she," I thought, "to fall so 
rapidly in love with me? And those eyes! She has really be- 
witched me with them." And now, at the remembrance of them, 
a shudder passed through me. And she was so pleasant, so plump, 
that it was difficult to keep from kissing her. There, on the 
meadow where we were sitting, with what warmth she kissed me, 
with what caresses, with what interruptions between one kiss and 
another, as if she were teasing me and giving me slowly this candy 
to lick instead of putting it at once into my mouth. Things 
would have gone perhaps even further if I had known better how 
to talk German. And I felt pleased at the thought of this woman 
and that moment when I mustered courage enough to kiss her 
breasts. Brr! I shook off this musing and raised my head. 
But it was still far to the field, and the horse went slowly, a real 
farm-horse, who was not in a hurry to work. Above my head 
larks sang their morning prayer to their Lord and Creator for 
having created them and given them life and caring for the lot of 
such a small birdie. And it behooved me also to offer thanks- 
giving to the Lord God for his mercy and for having allowed me 
to meet good people here, in a foreign country. So I crossed 
myself and said, "When the morning-dawn arises" [Kochanowski's 
psalm]. After this prayer I felt lighter and more blissful, and the 
morning seemed still more beautiful to me.' 

Soon I came to the appointed place, put the horse to an iron 
rake, sat down upon it and began to drive monotonously up and 
down, raising the rake from time to time. And again I loosened 
the reins of my thoughts, and they floated from Stolp to Berlin 
and back to Stolp, to the inspector's maid, and further to my 
country, to my family, to Kazia and finally stopped in Turek, in 
the fine house which belonged to Dora. For how could I ever 
forget her and her black eyes and those pleasant evenings? No, 
it could not be so easily forgotten.' But what is the difference? 

' He is absolutely happy because he lacks any serious criteria of personal 
value and any ideal by which the present situation could be judged, and is 
consequently absolutely dependent on actual social recognition in whatever 
form and on whatever ground it is manifested. 

* The remembrance of Dora returns always only at moments of social 
success or in general whenever his mood is above the normal level. In this 
way the image of Dora is always associated with the most interesting and 
subjectively the highest experiences and is progressively idealized. 



296 THE POLISH PEASANT 

Fate divided us. I was a whelp and she was a grown-up girl. 
I was a beggar and she was rich, and moreover I was a Pole and she 
was a German. Such impediments and obstacles divided us, 
so we separated, and now I am a parobek in a manor, while she is 
a great lady in Turek. Shall we ever meet again in life? Will 
she grant me one evening, as formerly, will she allow me to kiss 
her? Oh, no! She is now a lady and married, and this word 
forbids me even to think about it. And now, after four years, 
I meet another such woman, and we are divided by the same 
obstacles. She is a lady, she has her own house and I am a 
parobek. She is a German and I am a Pole. If she were even 
five times as rich and beautiful I would never give myself up to 
her forever. She invited me to her, but what for? The answer 
is clear; in order to amuse herself with me as with a not very wise 
child. For certainly not with the intention of marrying me, for 
opinion would never permit her to do this. She wants only to 
play, as I have played with girls. I have gone then my own way, 
and she will go her way, after having amused herself. Shall I 
go there? Yes, why not? But only once, to have more exper- 
ience, to see what such a lady can do. 

Thoughts like these crossed my mind. Dinner-time approached 
and in the Stube my first thought was to read the sheet. I found 
it in my pocket. I read the following words: "Mr. Jacek, come 
for the whole night. Write when you will come, and tell nobody." 
There were some more words below, but I was not able to under- 
stand them. I tore them away, without the two letters with 
which they were signed, to give them to the shoemaker to read. 
I learned from him that they were: "Tear this sheet lest some- 
body should get it." I tore it up in the eyes of all, but only this 
part; I had the rest in my pocket.' Then I went to the tavern, 
drank a bottle of beer and took half a pound of sausage with me to 
the field; I could indulge a little since I had won a few marks. 
And again some days passed without any incidents. I was occu- 
pied with composing a letter to Mrs. M. and in a few days I had 
it ready. It was composed of only a few words: "In two weeks 

' Neither a gentleman nor a peasant will show a letter from a lady, but 
with the former discretion is the manifestation of respect for the woman, 
while with the latter it is the result of the same caution which makes him 
keep all his personal matters secret. And the peasant will keep the letter 
as an eventual, weapon. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 297 

from next Saturday I will come by the steamboat." I told 
nobody about this and nobody knew about my randka. 1 was 
very much interested to know what would happen and I kept 
the note from her in order to have a proof in case she meant to 
play a joke. 

[On Sunday all drink for ^lazny's money. He adds more, 
and each drijiks on his own account also.] Everything would 
have gone all right if the married women had not got drunk, for 
they spoiled our whole amusement. They hindered us even in 
singing by their shrill squalling and puling. Moraski was awfully 
angry, for he liked singing, and I had already taught Wojtek and 
Franek a few songs and they helped me. Moraski bought us 
beer after beer and invited us to drink. He ordered one woman 
carried upstairs and shut up, that she might not hinder us by her 
singing. I must quote here at least one of her songs: 

"I have a hole in my shoe," 
I cannot dance. 
Play for me, little musician, 
I will raise my leg. 

I will raise one, 
I will raise both. 
We shall arrange it 
Slowly for ourselves." 

This is the prettiest one of her songs; there were many worse.* 
Only when this woman had been taken upstairs, we could sing 
suitably. 

I went to sleep with the others but toward dawn I wanted to 
go outside, and so I went as I was and barefooted. When return- 
ing I suddenly saw what looked like flames coming from the roof 
of a house. My eyes had not deceived me, for the fire grew 
bigger every moment. I returned rapidly to the room and cried, 
"Fire!" At this call the peasants began to raise their heads, 
and as rapidly as possible I put on my trousers and boots, and 
ran in the direction of the village. Upon the roof there was 
already a broad flame. I had to run by the manorial farm-yard, 
at the entry of which hung a bell for calling people to work. With- 

* The source of his aversion to obscenity is not so much sexual idealism 
as the same attitude manifested in his unwillingness to swear, and in general 
in his efforts to keep external respectability. Cf. p. 266. 



298 THE POLISH PEASANT 

out any reflection, I began to pull the 'rope. Then without waiting 
for anybody to come, I ran toward the church bells. There were 
two of them, but I rang only one. And then I ran toward the 
fire. At the alarm of the bells noise and movement arose in the 
village, and from the Stube some men were running already. When 
I was passing the house of the clerk, I saw light in his windows, 
so I did not need to rouse him. When I approached the burning 
house there was nobody there besides the owner, who was running 
around the buildings and lamenting, ^^Mein Gott\ Mein GottV^ 
I did not try at all to talk with him, but entered the house, where 
the family of the German was running here and there, carrying 
nothing out, only repeating, like the old man: "My God! My 
God!" I began to throw out whatever fell under my hand; the 
bed, clothes from the closet, and other objects. Following my 
example, the family began also to carry things out and Franek 
and some of the men came. As soon as I had finished carrying 
out the furniture, I ran behind the house where there was a sty 
or stable. The proprietor followed and begged us to save his 
hog. I called for an ax, but as they gave me none I broke the 
lock with a stone. The hog was fat and big and did not want to 
leave the sty, and I had nobody to help me. Again I had to call 
for help and at my call this time the clerk and the mayor appeared 
and began to urge the men to work. The clerk crept into the 
sty, but even two of us could not draw the hog out; only when 
two more came we got it out. And it was high time for the roof 
was ready to fall in. Hardly had we thrown the hog out when I 
returned and began to catch hens. I had carried a dozen of them 
out and intended to go in again, but somebody held me back. I 
looked around and saw an unknown German. But I tore myself 
away and carried three more hens out. There was nothing more 
to save, and even if there had been anything it was too late, for 
the roof was falling in. The owner approached the crowd and 
began to beg them to save the bacon which was ia the cellar under 
the living-rooms. As soon as I heard it I began to break the 
window which led to the cellar with my heel, and I lay down on 
the earth in order to creep down into the cellar. When my head 
was already inside somebody drew me back by my legs, and when 
I arose I saw the same German who had hindered me once already. 
I called in German: "Why do you hinder me? Go away!" But 
he barred the way with his person, and as he was very big and 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 299 

stout, I feared to begin a fight with him and only swore in German 
and went aside. He looked at me for awhile and went away also. 
At breakfast Moraski came into the room and said: '^Jacek, 
you won't go to work today, and at ten you will go to the clerk. 
But who ordered you to ring the bell at the gate and the church 
bell, eh?" — "Nobody ordered me," I said, "but it was my duty 
to call for help." — "Well, wait, the Landrat will show you. Only 
don't forget to go." I slept until nine, and went to the clerk. 
There I met that German who had withheld me twice at the fire, 
and as I learned later, he was the Landrat^ or mayor. When I 
came in the clerk asked me to sit down and seated himself at the 
table, ready to write. The mayor began to inquire how I saw the 
fire, etc., and when he could not understand me the clerk explained, 
for we understood each other better. The clerk wrote down my 
whole narration. Finally the mayor asked why I rang the bells 
and who ordered me to do it. "Nobody ordered me, but I know 
myself how to call for help. For if I went from window to window 
and called people it would take too much time, and everything 
would be burned before our arrival." — "And do they also ring 
the bells in your country when there is fire?" — "They do it 
also," I answered. At last the inquest was finished and the mayor 
drew a thaler from his pocket and gave it to me, saying, " Brave 
boy." Then we drank a bottle of beer each, the mayor drove oflF, 
the clerk went to work, and I to the tavern for lunch, for I merited 
it. On the way I found in my book the word with which the 
mayor gratified me, and only then I learned that he called me 
"brave." In the tavern I asked for half a pound of sausage, a 
glass of brandy and a bottle of beer. After lunch I went upon the 
meadow, lay down and learned German. I did not even go to 
the Stiibe to dinner, but in the evening Moraski asked me what the 
Landrat said to me. I related our conversation and boasted that 
he gave me a thaler. 



Days passed again, one like another, and the time of the meet- 
ing with Mrs. M. approached. I went to Ludwika two or three 
times every week, but I did not always foolish for I got tired of 
her, and if it had not been for the eating, I would not have gone 




3C» THE POLISH PEASANT 

at all. I always promised her that I would not go to my country 
but would stay in Stolp for the winter, and the silly girl believed 
me.' [The clerk arranges to have him released from work on 
Saturday at three.] I dressed myself as well and as cleanly as 
possible, and before six I was in Anklam. First I went to the 
address, in order to find the house where Mrs. M. lived. It was 
a nice house, two stories high. And when I was sure that I should 
find it later without questioning I went away and dropped in to 
take a drink for boldness. For I must confess that an awful terror 
' began to overcome me, some fright that perhaps I should fall into 
an ambush. So I found that note from her and put it into my 
pocket-book, in order to have it ready in case I had to excuse 
myself. I could not sit in the tavern, but ran about the streets 
like a fool, driven by some frightful thoughts. More than once 
I stood before the house of Mrs. M. but I had not the courage to 
enter, and I was ready to go back to Stolp, but I reflected: "Why, 
they won't kill me. And if I see that she is not glad to see me I 
will stay for a quarter of an hour and return to Stolp; it is not far." 
Thirst burned me more and more, and I drank at short intervals 
five bottles of beer. Finally when it became dusky, I mustered 
my courage, crossed myself mentally and pressed the latch on the 
front door.* I knew that Mrs. M. occupied the second floor. 
Upon the door there was a white tablet with the name of my lady. 
So I knocked at the door, it opened and I saw a rather young girl. 
I said, "Good evening," and asked whether Mrs. M. lived there. 
Instead of answering, this girl asked me whether I was the cousin 
of her mistress. I did not know at first what to answer, but soon 
I understood the situation and said yes. "Then please wait a 
little here and I will tell my lady." I asked myself why I had 
admitted the cousinship. Perhaps she was really waiting for a 

' It is an interesting character of this autobiography that the author 
does not occupy any consistent standpoint in writing it, but enters uncon- 
sciously into the spirit of every period of his life as he describes it, and occupies 
again all the standpoints that he had successively occupied. Thus he does 
not even try to justify this behavior toward Ludwika, and he would certainly 
have tried to do this if it had happened three or four years before, when he 
still felt the binding character of such promises as he makes and considered 
this kind of relationship below his standards. 

* The problem of ''existence" is always weighing heavily on his soul, 
and his fear-thought assumes here almost the character of a true phobia, 
manifesting itself in the absurd thought of an ambush, etc. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 301 

cousin; he might come at any moment and we should meet eye 
to eye, and what then? But I had not much time to reflect for 
at this moment Mrs. M. came and this girl behind her. She 
embraced me as if she were really my aunt, and kissed me on both 
cheeks, saying, "Cousin Johann! Cousin Johann!" After this 
sentimental greeting, I kissed her hand, and all this in the presence 
of the maid. 

[Spends the night. Sleeps with Mrs. M. "But I put my 
trousers on a chair near the door, for I was mistrustful."] The 
breakfast was copious, moistened with much cordial and lasted 
very long. Mrs. M. asked me when I would come to her again 
and urged me to come as soon as possible. I promised to come 
and to inform her by letter. She wrote my address down, and 
after a dozen kisses and as many glasses of cordial I left the kind 
hostess and at half-past one was already in Stolp. 

Moraski was very glad when he saw me, for he thought that 
I had run away. Up to this time I could not gather my thoughts 
after the night and I could not believe myself what had happened 
to me. For I should never have dreamed that anything like this 
could ever happen to me. I thought that Mrs. M. had invited 
me to her in order to play with me as with a naive child, but I 
did not regret it, for I also amused myself enough, even too much, 
for I felt still feeble and sleepy. 

After pay day there was usually drinking, and once I went 
with three boys to the tavern and we drank there until late in the 
night. We were well tipsy and finally wanted girls. So we 
planned to go to our girls, and to foolish upon their beds. I must 
mention that every one of my three companions had his own girl 
and had foolished with her more than once, but of course not upon 
his bed, only in different corners adapted to this. I had no girl 
to whom I could venture to go, but at the instigation of my com- 
panions I selected Jozia. I knew the place where she slept, and 
her brother Franek was one of us, and he persuaded me himself 
to go to his sister.' So we took off our clothes and remained only 
in our shirts. It was dark in our sleeping-room and in that of the 
women. My three companions went in and lay down near their 
girls. I followed but could not find Jozia at once in the dark. I 
knew that two very young girls slept by her, so I put my hand 
under the cover to ascertain which were the young girls and which 

' Franek probably hoped that this would lead to marriage. 



302 THE POLISH PEASANT 

was Jozia. I felt the first, then the second, and found out easily 
that they were still very young girls. The third was evidently 
Jozia. At this moment a woman at the other end of the room 
called out: ''Michal! Light a lamp, for I feel bad," and in a 
moment Michal lighted the lamp. Those young girls whom I 
had felt were evidently not asleep and knew what was going on, 
but gave no sign of it. Now made bold by the light they began 
to call: "Pawlak! Come here, for somebody is here, and put 
his hand under our pillows." I felt cold and hot, for Pawlak was 
coming in my direction with the lamp. Without reflecting, I 
caught the shoe of some girl and threw it with all my strength and 
broke the lamp to pieces. [He escapes, but the other boys are 
caught and "belted." It becomes known from the talk of the 
other boys that Wladek was also of the number, and they have to 
pay 2 marks each for drink.] 

[The season is approaching its end. The clerk advises him to 
go to Berlin, and gives him letters of introduction. Mrs. M. 
writes, and again asks him to destroy the note. "But I concealed 
it with the first, for I regretted to part with such proofs." Makes 
two more visits to her.] On the day before leaving I went to the 
clerk to bid him farewell, and from him to Ludwika, with whom I 
ate a good supper and foolished before the journey. Ludwika 
was certain that I would remain in Stolp for the winter, and I 
kept her in this belief. Next morning carts drove up and we left 
Stolp to the sound of music and singing. Soon we were in Anklam. 
A few hours still remained, as I had to go only at eleven o'clock 
at night. It was only three o'clock so I went for a walk about 
Anklam, but there was nothing to see, so I soon got bored with 
my walk. I had already been a dozen times opposite the house of 
Mrs. M. but I had not courage to enter, and I went away only to 
come back again after a few minutes. I don't know how many 
times I had done this when suddenly I met her face to face. It 
was too late to run away, for she was very near, recognized me and 
was coming to meet me with an outstretched hand, covered with 
a white glove. "Mr. Jacek! what are you doing here today? 
I did not expect you at all. Why did you not write that you would 
come? Have you been in my house already?" And she covered 
me so with questions that I had no time at all to answer. Only 
when she finished and we were going back toward her house, I 
answered that I had not called on her because I had no time today; 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 303 

I was going to Berlin. "To Berlin? Why then?" — "I don't 
know myself. I have letters and am going with them." — "Well, 
then you still have time." And although I defended myself a 
little, she drew me into her house for coffee, as she said. In a 
few minutes the table was covered with food and drink, and soon 
I was pretty well at home. At ten I prepared to leave, but my 
efforts were vain, for Mrs. M. refused to let me go and succeeded 
in persuading me that I should lose nothing if I stayed till to- 
morrow. As the cordial was very good and I had drunk some 
glasses, I listened and remained. I had with me about 50 marks 
and was a little anxious not to lose them, and while Mrs. M. was 
occupied with something else I put them rapidly into less visible 
pockets, for although I did not fear that Mrs. M. would take 
them, still I preferred to be sure, for if I bad lost them I should 
haveremainedwithoutanymeans tolive. . . . When I was leaving 
Anklam, I must confess that I did it with regret, but it was impos- 
sible to do otherwise, for I would not stay as a toy of Mrs. M. 
I did not tell her at all who I was and that I was leaving her, 
Anklam and Stolp forever, but on bidding her goodbye I promised 
to come to her as soon as time permitted. Perhaps if I had told 
Mrs. M. the truth, who I was, she would have thrown me out of 
the door. But perhaps she would have helped me and advised. But 
I was ashamed to do it, and afterwards I regretted it very much. 



[He takes three letters to Berlin, one to a hotel, another to the 
Baker's Qub, and the third to the brother of the clerk. He pays 
a month in advance at the hotel, but after the month pays for 
the room only. Among the bakers he finds no work, but smyruseSj 
as in Poland, who make him treat them. The clerk's brother has 
moved, and Wiadek tears up the letter to him, as he cannot find 
his new address. In two months his money is gone and he is 
wandering the streets. Gradually sells his clothing, etc.] Now 
I accosted hundreds of people simply on the street, asking for 
advice about finding work or for work. But every one simply 
shrugged his shoulders and went on. Once I met a gentleman and 
I noticed from his physiognomy that he was probably not a 
German. I approached with the same question, but he began 
immediately to talk Polish: "Are you a Pole?" — "Yes," I 
answered, "how did you recognize it?" — "From your accent. 



304 THE POLISH PEASANT 

And please come to dinner with me; perhaps you are hungry." 
And without waiting for my answer, he led me toward a restaurant 
and ordered a dinner for two persons. During the dinner I told 
him my present critical situation. He complained also about 
Berlin, said that he had not worked for a long time and that it 
was difficult to find work in Berlin. He was a brush-maker, bom 
in Warsaw. After dinner, we went upon the street, and in bidding 
me farewell he put a thaler into my hand and went away rapidly. 
I looked after him and went my own way. . . . 

Thus I wandered about Berlin, having 5 pfennigs in my pocket. 
I must add that it was winter, it snowed heavily and I had had 
nothing warm for some days. It was painful to pass near a restau- 
rant, through the window of which people were seen eating many 
dishes. I stood under such a restaurant sometimes waiting 
whether somebody would throw some remnants through the door. 
But my waiting was fruitless, for nobody threw anything, and I 
walked further, until night fell. Suddenly I saw a lady walking 
rapidly and carrying a package [hand-bag] upon a thin chain. At 
the first moment I felt a strong desire to jump, to tear this package 
off and to run away. I had already made a few steps toward her 
with this intention, but I could not do it. Fear and something 
else, I don't know what, hindered me and the lady passed undis- 
turbed. I went on farther and began to pray, thanking God for 
not having permitted me to become a thief.^ 

*■ The step from vagabondage and petty dishonesty to explicit theft is 
difficult to take when a man has been brought up in a normal social environ- 
ment and is strongly dependent on social opinion. Social condemnation and 
contempt have the same character of discontinuity as legal sanction; they 
attach themselves to definite classes of explicit acts, while leaving more or 
less out of consideration the graduations of intermediary behavior, with their 
multiplicity of shadings. Thus a series of acts may express attitudes indefi- 
nitely approaching an attitude and an act characterized as criminal, and the 
difference may become psychologically quite insignificant, but as long as the 
precise act condemned by social opinion as criminal has not been formally 
committed neither the group nor the subject himself realizes that the region 
of criminality has already been entered. And if the subject stops before the 
explicit act, this is perfectly natural, for the whole odium with which social 
opinion has surrounded the att stands in the way. * WUdek has stolen food 
and fuel, money from his father's and his masters' drawers, a fisherman's net 
from the open, has killed the poultry entrusted to him, etc., and he did this 
without necessity; but even in the worst necessity he stops before robbing a 
lady of her hand-bag, this being universally and explicitly recognized by 
public opinion as plain theft. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 305 

I came to an avenue where some benches stood and sat down 
upon the first. The snow began to cover me, but I was not 
allowed to sit here long, for a policeman came and pushed me so 
brutally from the bench that I fell upon the earth. I said not a 
word and went on. I approached a railway station and entered 
to warm myself, but I happened to come there in a bad moment, 
for before I had the time to sit down some porter began to drive 
away all the persons who were there and me with them. It 
snowed more and more, my teeth chattered from cold. And 
again I wandered about the streets of this big city which could 
not give me any shelter. Thus I walked till morning, and my 
legs failed, but I had to walk, for there was no place to sit, and it 
was forbidden, although I should have preferred to freeze during 
this night in some street-kennel and not to live until the next 
day. Alas! this did not happen, and the day came and a worse 
one, for I was still hungrier. Noon came, and I had invented 
nothing and had no aim. Like an insane man, for I was already 
80 to some degree, I walked about the streets. Suddenly I met 
a small detachment of soldiers and then an idea flashed. I thought 
that today I ought also to be a soldier instead of tramping, hungry 
and frozen, about the streets of Berlin. Here I remembered that 
in every capital city there must be a Russian consul, so I was sure 
that there was one in Berlin. With this idea I approached a 
policeman and asked him where was the Russian consulate. The 
policeman drew a book from his pocket and began to search in it for 
a very long time; only after perhaps an hour he gave me the answer 
that he lived on Lindenstrasse and that it was very far. He asked 
me whether I would go by the street-car. "Afoot," I answered. — 
"Oh, it is very far, you won't get there today." And he showed me 
the street along which I had to go. I started, but the policeman 
was right; the evening came and I had not found the consulate. 
And again I spent a night upon the streets of Berlin, impossibly hun- 
gry, for since I had left the hotel I had had nothing in my mouth. 
Moreover the cold oppressed me awfully. . . . During this whole 
night sobs shook my body, and I met no pitiful person who would 
give me a few pfennigs, although I did not cease to accost people.' 

* Thif aimlessness and helpleMness of a usually resourceful man (we saw 
the same thing in Warsaw) is significant for the position of the immigrant 
in a large city. In a city the whole external organization of life, the system 
of relations uniting the whole institution, is essentially impersonal, although 



l' 



306 THE POLISH PEASANT 

[Reaches the consulate.] A gentleman approached and asked 
me in Russian what business I had. I told him that I belonged to 
the army and wanted to be sent back to Poland. This gentleman 
told me to show him my passport. I had no such passport and 
told him that I had none. ''In that case we cannot send you 
home. We have no right to do it, for everybody could come and 
say the same, in order to be sent without paying." Saying this 
he went away and left me alone. But I did not move from my 
place, for I did not want to go upon the street any more; I knew 
well what awaited me there. I resolved not to leave unless they 
threw me out by force. After awhile another came and said: 
" You have nothing to wait for, you won't be sent back to your 
country. You may go." — "Where shall I go? To perish upon 
the street from hunger and cold ? I have had nothing in my mouth 
for three days and have not slept, and now you drive me away? 
I won't go from here of my own will." ' Thus I answered this 
second gentleman who wanted to get rid of me. He looked at 
me for awhile and saying not a word, went away. I reflected 
that perhaps I had acted too sharply, but now it was quite indif- 
ferent to me whether I went on the street and died of hunger and 
cold or sat in a prison. So I sat more comfortably upon the chair 
and waited. Soon a third gentleman appeared, with a long gray 
beard and in uniform. At his approach I wanted to rise, but he 
gave me a sign with his hand not to do it, and I sat down again. 
He drew nearer and began to observe me. Then he inquired in 
what way I had got to Berlin and in general all about the details 
of my stay here. I related it. When I finished, he asked: "Do 
you want to work?" — "I do," I answered. — "That is all right," 
he said, and went out. After awhile he returned, carrying a 
paper in his hand. He gave it to me saying: "Here you have an 
address; go there and you will get work. You will work there 
until you earn for your journey." — "And is it far from here?" — 
"Very far; you must go in a car, for afoot you would not reach 

below thif system are found innumerable variously mixed and conflicting 
personal relations. The solitary newcomer is usually theoretically in an even 
worse situation than WSadek, because lacking any means of communication 
with the new milieu. This explains why the immigrant to America is obliged 
to settle for a time among his own people. 

* This is the only point where WSadek rejects every caution; there is no 
longer a feeling of insecurity, for he has actually nothing to lose. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 307 

it before tomorrow." — "But how can I go in a car, since I have 
not a pfennig and I am very hungry?" He took 3 marks out of 
his pocket and gave them to me. I thanked him very warmly and 
begged him to explain what car I should take and where to change, 
and I wrote down everything he told me, in order not to lose my 
way. Then I thanked him once more and left. First I found a 
restaurant and ate, . . . bought tobacco, mounted into a car 
and went. Thanks to my prudence [cleverness] I did not go 
wrong, but I reached my end only when it was rather dark. 

[Works from the middle of January to the end of February in 
a large garden, with hot-houses, attached to a Russian church. 
Paid 2 marks a day. Leaves, after some purchases, with 30 marks. 
Smuggled across the frontier by a Jew.] At Shipca I paid the 
Jew 5 roubles and began to reflect about what I should do now. 
But I did not reflect long, and resolved to apply to the district 
government to take me to the army at once. So I started to 
Konin afoot, and before night I was there. I went to the chief 
of the district, who after looking through some books told me to 
present myself in two days. On leaving the oflice I did not know 
what to do. I had no home and I did not want to go to brother 
Stanislaw, for I was almost sure that instead of showing compassion 
he would scold me. I should have preferred it if they had taken 
me at once, but I could not force them. I wanted to see my family, 
and finally I decided to go. I thought: "What can Stanislaw 
do to me.^ I won't let him beat me, and if he does not give me 
anything to eat I shall go without it. I can also pass the night 
in some farmer's home." So I bought a pound of blood-sausage, 
rolls for 5 copecks, and started to Straszkowo. It was thirty-six 
wiorsta to Straszkowo, but I had the luck to meet a coach going 
the same way and for a few copecks went on it a long part of the 
way. The driver was not very talkative, so I loosened the reins 
of my thoughts. I reflected why I had indeed gone to Berlin. 
I was there almost four months and found no work, and if it had 
not been for the consul I should perhaps have died or been sitting 
in a German prison, for I was very near it when I met that lady 
with a hand-bag, but God had preserved me from it. And all this 
my good clerk had done. He promised me that I would find 
work in Berlin and gave me letters, but those letters were without 
any importance for me. So instead of being grateful to the clerk, 
I felt a grudge against him. The army appeared to me now a 



3o8 THE POLISH PEASANT 

plank of salvation, although others would like to lose hundreds 
and even thousands to get free from military service. 

With such sad reflections I reached Straszkowo. As soon as 
I opened the door, an awful clamor arose, as usually at greeting. 
When it got a little calmer mother and sister Marya, who was 
also at home now, began to abuse me much for having returned 
from Prussia. "Why, they will take you now to the army and 
you will fight your own brothers, for a big revolution is coming." 
But I did not care for it at all, and said: "It is better if they take 
me, for I have got tired of living. I will gladly go to serve in 
order to stop tramping about the world." Sister Marya cursed 
me even a few times for being willing to serve the Muscovite, 
but she did not know, poor girl, that I had suffered worse than a 
soldier in military service.' Stanislaw was not at home but in 
Kolo, with his Wanda. They began to inquire how I had suc- 
ceeded during this year in Prussia. I related as well as I could, 
omitting the worst. During my relation I ate a little. I told 
my mother that the district chief ordered me to appear in two 
days and there was no doubt that they would take me to the 
army. Mother began to comfort me, saying that perhaps they 
wouldn't take me, for I was very thin. But this grieved me more 
than comforted, for if they didn't take me, I should be obliged 
again to tramp like a beggar. I preferred to work the hardest 
possible, day and night, only not to tramp, only to work in the 
same place. 

It was after twelve when we went to sleep. I lay down in 
Stanisiaw's bed; we had to sleep together. I wrapped my 40 
copecks in a handkerchief and put them under my head, for if 
somebody was curious and searched my pocket, it would be better 
if he found nothing than those 40 copecks. After some time 
Stanislaw came in. Lucas told him at once that I was there and 
was sleeping in his bed. "And why, mother,, did you admit this 
tramp into the house and put him into my bed, that he might 
fill it with lice? He could have gone to the bam to sleep, since 
he came to serve the Muscovite." Mother tried to calm Stach 
and to persuade him as well as she could, but he did not cease 
until he lacked words for further insults. Finally he calmed him- 

* The whole country was swept during the period 1905-1906 by a power- 
ful movement toward national and social liberty, and Wladek does not grasp 
the civic and patriotic ideals which have moved even his old mother. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 309 

self a little, came into the room where I slept and lay down. I 
turned myself toward the wall and pretended to sleep fast, but 
did not sleep for almost the whole night. Such was the greeting 
of my family; instead of comfort after a rather hard year I met 
insults. 

[Goes to Konin, is enlisted and returns.] A few minutes later 
I bade goodbye to mother and my younger brothers and sisters. 
Mother pressed into my hand some copecks wrapped with paper, 
but could not withhold her tears, and everybody cried. Stach 
was in the school, so I went and knocked at the door. He came 
out. "Well, remain with God," I said, "I am going to serve." — 
"Have they taken you?" — "They have," I answered. We 
kissed each other, and I went. But I had hardly taken a few 
steps when I began to cry, so that I was unable to move. I 
leaned against a tree and stood there for a few minutes. When 
I Calmed myself a little and looked around, they were all standing 
there and crying also, without excepting Stach. I took my hat 
off for the last time, threw my last, "Remain with God," and 
started away. 



[Taken to Leczyca. The other recruits are well equipped with 
provisions and clothing.] And what was my fortune in comparison 
with theirs? Zero. But I was richer than they in wit and this 
made me succeed. I always went into the kitchen and got a 
piece of meat; there was more soup in my bowl, I had almost 
always a whole loaf of bread in my chest. And therefore also 
my companions kept with me, and I drank often, thanks to them, 
a glass of brandy or beer.' Here I must mention my three best 
companions. The first was of the same district as I, stout and 
big, but little developed; his name was Gabryszak. The second 
was Piechocki, Gabryszak's neighbor, smaller than I, but more 

' Wladek's success in the army is explained by the particular character 
of his practical abilities. During his vagabondage he has preserved and 
developed the faculty of invention of details from moment to moment. And 
this is precisely the faculty needed in the army, where material existence is 
assured, there are no distant and important plans, and the whole life consists 
in details. 



y 



310 THE POLISH PEASANT 

developed than Gabryszak. The third, Nogaj, was always as if 
he lacked the fifth stave [was crazy] and he was a great card- 
player. I mention them here because I served with them my 
whole term. 

We were in Leczyca about two weeks and then we went to 
Odessa. In Odessa we waited for the ship which was to carry 
us to Batum. . . . After six days we arrived at Batum, and thence 
by railway through the mountains of Caucasus to Aleksandropol, 
which was the end of our long journey. For every day of the 
journey where we got no food we were to receive 25 copecks, 
and there were seven such days. But when we asked the elder 
sergeant for money he said that we would receive it from the 
military chief. Precisely now the elder led us to the military chief, 
gave him the papers and wanted to leave, but I did not let him 
go, asking him to pay us for the seven days past and for the present 
eighth. But he was stubborn and refused to give us money A 
quarrel arose whose noise brought the chief himself. The chief 
asked what was the matter. I explained that boarding-money was 
due to us for eight days, 1. ^., 2 roubles to each. The chief called 
the elder into his office, and after awhile gave us 2 roubles each. 

The detachment to which we belonged now wais called the 
local detachment of Aleksandropol, and was composed of no more 
than a hundred men. Their duty was to escort various prisoners 
and deserters to various towns, of which the most important one 
was Erywan. Without boasting I was the best soldier among the 
young recruits, for the Muscovites were stupid like boot-heels; 
they know hardly how to cross themselves, and among thirty- 
two only six knew how to read and write. . . . The chief of this 
detachment was the lieutenant-colonel Polonkin, but I will call 
him simply the chief. There was a sergeant-major, an old drunk- 
ard of sixty, a good and indulgent man; two older sergeants, 
one [illegible] and three younger under-officers. The detachment 
was divided into squads, the first and the second. I belonged to 
the second. The sergeant was a man from the province of Podole, 
of Polish origin, but he knew not a word of Polish. He was a 
piece of a scoundrel and tried to make Muscovites of all the Poles 
who served in this detachment. He was helped in this by a Pole 
from the province of Kalisz, Milczarek, who was a corporal. 
Besides the four of us there were eleven other Poles, but the oldest 
of them was this Milczarek. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 311 

After supper I lay down, and some Poles surrounded me, every- 
body inquiring about his own country — what was the news. At 
the same time Milczarek returned to the barracks and one of the 
men who sat near me called: ''Come here, Milczarek, here is 
your countryman." But he, instead of approaching and asking 
what was the news in his country, answered in Russian, ''Shall 
I him, this countryman?" Then I raised my head and an- 
swered in the same language: "You shall not do it to me, but you 
may do it to a bitch." Then I added in Polish to those who sat 
around me: "What a vulgar Ham!" They all even grew pale 
that I dared to offend thus a corporal, but I did not care for it at 
all. When Milczarek abused me in Russian and threatened that 
he would not forgive me, I laughed at him, saying that he had 
forgotten to talk Polish. After this I did not talk to him any more. 
He was precisely the assistant of the head-sergeant of the second 
squad and they both tried to russify the Poles, but God had sent 
me to stand in their way.' 

The chief came to the barracks once a day, at nine o'clock in 
the morning, spent about one hour and went away. On the third 
day we began to learn. But there was nothing to learn, for I 
read the statute a few times and knew everything, and the next 
day when the chief was listening the teacher asked me some ques- 
tions, as the best pupil, and I answered without hesitation, so 
that the chief himself said, "S^Aftio" [thank you]. In a word, 
the learning was easy for me. The drill with the gun was a little 
more difficult in the beginning, but even thus I was ahead of my 
companions, and often when they were learning I was free. 

A week before Easter the sergeant-major allowed me to search 
for work in some bakery, and I found it with an Armenian, for 
I rb. 50 a day. I worked six days and earned 9 roubles. For 
this money I bought a big babka for the sergeant-major, treated 
the elder teacher and bought boots; only I did not spend it all. 

Meanwhile summer came and we moved to the camp, and 

' Of course he could become thus suddenly patriotic only if the patriotic 
values made indirectly some appeal to his pre-existing egotistic attitudes, 
and this happened when the behavior of Milczarek aroused a strong personal 
resentment; and he came to identify himself with the patriotic idea because 
Milczarek was anti-patriotic. Moreover he was led to emphasize the national 
separatism because in this way he secured an easy distinction in the eyes of 
his patriotic fellow Poles. The process is typical for the origin of many a 
political, social and religious leadership. 



312 THE POLISH PEASANT 

learning began for those who were to go into the school detachment 
[to become under-ofiicers]. I was assigned to this school, as well 
as two of my companions, Piechocki and Gabryszak. Nogaj 
went as orderly to the chief's house. Our teacher was now the 
sergeant of the second squad, who did not know even addition 
well; in a word, he knew less than his pupils. But "service is 
not friendship," so we had to listen. There were only two hours 
a day of this learning. Aside from this I gave all my free moments 
to learning the military service, and when I did not know anything 
I went myself to the first sergeant, who taught me and explained. 
My sergeant was awfully angry with me for not going to him. 
He tried to annoy me at every step and Milczarek helped him. 

Once a gala day came and some soldiers went to the Russian 
church. My sergeant began to drive me there, but I refused 
positively to go. He threatened and swore, and at this moment 
Milczarek appeared and began to instigate him still more. Then 
I said: "You renegade, you dare to incite the sergeant to make 
me go to pray in a Russian church.^" And it came to this, that 
the whole detachment surrounded us and listened to our conversa- 
tion. I talked Polish and he Russian. All the Poles stood behind 
me and incited me to tease Milczarek, for he was not liked in the 
barracks by anybody except the sergeant. During the quarrel 
I said to Milczarek not to be so proud, for the time might come 
when he would be obliged to salute me. "O ho, you won't live 
till the moment when I salute you!" And the sergeant added: 
" I will try not to let you go into the school." And here the quarrel 
ended. 

The time passed rapidly. Five of us were selected to go to the 
school-detachment. I was a little afraid the sergeant would 
prevent my going, so I went to Nogaj and asked h'm to talk in 
my favor to the chief. And Nogaj evidently did his best, for the 
next day during the learning the chief came in and sat down at the 
examination. He told us first to read, then he dictated and we 
wrote. Finally each of us in turn went to the table and made the 
calculations which he ordered. After the examination the chief 
selected four of us, among whom I was, and ordered the sergeant- 
major to name us: Piechocki, Wiszniewski, Bundarow and Grego- 
row. . . . My sergeant and Milczarek were almost mad with 
anger. All the others were glad that I was to go to the school- 
detachment, for they liked me enough, because I was bold, talka- 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 313 

tive and spoke in favor of everybody when it was needed. And 
as I knew the whole statute and knew how to present matters clearly 
it happened often that my request brought good consequences. 
For example, when the days of confession arrived I requested the 
sergeant-major to free us for three days, and we were freed, which 
never happened up to that time. I was in particularly friendly 
relations with Bundarow, and more than once he spent the whole 
night with me, learning from me arithmetic. And as he was very 
intelligent he surpassed me in this. 

Our detachment had no school of its own, but sent its selected 
soldiers to another regiment in the same town. We had to spend 
five months there. The chief of the school was a captain, a very 
good man and still more indulgent. His assistants were four 
younger officers. Our teacher was also good but only to his own 
squad, while from others he required even too much when he had 
an opportunity. The sergeant-major was a piece of a devil, but 
I knew a little how to keep his brutality in limits. The books 
which I received for learning lay in my chest without use, and I 
could learn enough from listening. Some times, when something 
was more difiicult, I took the book from Bundarow and read it a 
few times. I spent the rest of my time in reading Russian novels 
which I took from the town library, paying 10 copecks a month. 
When we sat in class the ofiicer walked about and we had to learn. 
I had always two books before me; one was the hand-book, the 
other some novel. When the officer approached I put the first 
above and when he turned his back I drew my novel. 

Once the oflScer noticed it, approached, drew the novel f^om 
under my hand-book and began to look over it, laughing. Then 
he ^sked where I got my books. I told him. He laughed and 
said: "You read novels, and do know the lesson?" — "I know it," 
I answered. " Well, we shall see." And I always knew the lesson. 
Gradually the four young ofiicers liked me a little and brought me 
themselves books to read. Once when we were learning in the 
class to handle the gun, my officer approached and began a con- 
versation with me. Soon his three companions did the same, and 
when the conversation assumed wider proportions every one of 
them put a pupil in his place to command the others, and we dis- 
cussed. We talked about heaven and hell, then about heavenly 
bodies; about Adam, our first parent and his sons, . . . whence 
Cain took his wife; about the deluge, and so on. We began imme- 



314 THE POLISH PEASANT 

diately after noon and we talked continually until it grew dark. I 
stood, leaned upon my gun and talked as if with equals. We 
could not finish the conversation. Finally the officers noticed 
that it was dark and said: "Tomorrow we shall finish." They 
went away and I went also to the barracks. 

After that the officers treated me still better and very often 
we had discussions like that one. Meanwhile I tried much to 
draw the sergeant-major into a discussion, for I wanted to tell 
him how inhumanly he treated the soldiers. For indeed it was 
inhuman. Every evening after the prayer he kept us standing, 
sometimes two hours, and we had to stand straight and immovable 
while he explained quite unnecessary things. If it had been only 
this! But every evening he made an inspection of the onuczki 
["Russian socks," ». ^., pieces of linen], the feet and the neckties, 
and if he noticed a dirty onuczka he ordered the owner to hold it 
in his teeth. This never happened to me, for I had always clean 
onuczki in my pocket and showed him these, but this behavior 
towards us pained me much and I sought for means to tell him this. 
... So I began to make advances in every free moment, for he 
slept with us in the barrack-room, in a comer separated by a 
curtain. I went often to him, asking him to explain something 
or other, although I knew it well myself. Gradually I succeeded 
in drawing him into discussions, trying always to make military 
service its subject. Finally I was in quite friendly relations with 
him. More than once we ran about the barracks like children, 
he after me. Once I went to him and we began a conversation. 
Slowly a whole heap gf soldiers surrounded us and listened to our 
talk. During the conversation I asked him whether he knew 
soldiers who had no parents or very poor parents. " I know some," 
he answered. "And does somebody send them money here, to 
the army?" — "No, who would, since they have no parents or 
the latter are poor?" — "Then you see that they are poor people 
and cannot buy new onuczki every few days." — "Let them wash 
them." — "All right, but if it is winter and the water is frozen, 
where can they wash.?" In short, I showed him everything which 
I noticed that he ought not to do and which the service did not 
require. And I began to make him ashamed in the presence of 
all the soldiers who sat near us, saying that he called himself a 
father of the company, while he did not behave as a father ought 
to. " Even a step-father docs not act thus. Ask your own reason 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 315 

whether you behave well, and soldiers whether they think well of 
you. Do you think that they have no feeling and don't under- 
stand your behavior?" The sergeant-major reddened a little 
that a simple soldier gave him such a lesson, but he could not 
answer me clearly and the farther we progressed in our conversa- 
tion the more he got entangled. Finally I led him to this, that he 
promised to be a real father. And he did not lie, for it showed 
itself on the same evening. He kept us standing much shorter, 
and if he noticed a dirty onuczka he ordered it washed and not 
held in the teeth. And as I did not cease working, he became more 
and more indulgent every day, and he made the inspection only 
for the sake of appearances and did not notice if anything was 
dirty. He liked me more and more, and if sometimes I did not 
go to him he called me himself, that I might relate something to 
him. I always tried to relate something moralizing and exemplary.' 
On the examination I succeeded the best possible; I had only 
one four and the rest fives. I must add that only five did not 
pass the examination. They had to remain for another five 
months, and this displeased them very much and they began to 
cry. I received as a token from my officer a big ocarina, and 
another gave me skates. I and Bundarow were younger under- 
officers a week later, and I took at once command of the second 
squad. A month later I got the third galloon [sergeant], for the 
man who was to take the command before me was sent to another 
town. . . . Now I was getting on very well. I had 72 roubles 
of salary a year, and there was other income [tips] when I began 
to command the escorts. Milczarek belonged to my squad and 
had to listen to me, but not long, for soon he went home. I was 
liked much by the prisoners also, for I treated them always hu- 
manly and permitted them to do whatever they wanted, provided 
they did not go beyond the limits. It happened that as soon as 
I entered the prison yard and the prisoners saw me, voices were 
heard: "Our escort-elder! Our escort-elder!" And this was 
not without profit for me, for it happened more than once that 
none of the prisoners accepted even a grosz of the boarding-money 

' WSadek's function as moral preacher evidently corresponds to t ret! 
social need, for he seems to be almost always successful in various milieux, 
at least in attracting attention. Has this need been developed by religious 
preaching, or does it express a general social attitude to which religious preach- 
ing itself owes its success? 



3i6 THE POLISH PEASANT 

from me, and when I was going to Eiywan I had boarding-money 
for two days — 15 copecks for each — and there were fifty or 
more prisoners, so sometimes 10 or 15 roubles were left for me. 
Again, I took their irons off in the car, allowed them to smoke 
cigarettes, to play cards, sometimes to drink a bottle of wine, 
which I drank with them.' Some of them were rich, had a hun- 
dred or more roubles, broad belts full of gold, while according to 
the law it was forbidden a prisoner to have more than one rouble 
with him, and if he had more he must give it to the escort-elder 
to keep, and he gave him a receipt. 

When the prisoners were put in a line I approached and asked 
whether anybody had more than one rouble of money with him. 
When he answered that he had none, searching began about his 
person and in his bundle. It happened that the soldiers found 
money sewn in the collar or some oth^'r place; then they tore it 
open and gave me the money, and ^haa once some hundreds 

of such money were gathered. . . . *. ^ ilso forbidden to keep 
glasses or bottles [probably to avoid-i^ /fci- jJ, only iron cups could 
be used to drink tea. So we had each about a dozen glasses in 
our chests. Among those happened to be expensive ones, but 
only escort-elders got these. 

We escorted them with naked sabres and loaded revolvers to the 
station. The car was specially built, with iron bars in the windows. 
When the train was running the prisoners' irons could be taken 
off, but only the handcuffs, never the leg-irons. But this depended 
on the elder. Then in the car the prisoners could use no other 
food but bread and water, but this depended also upon the elder. 
As I said, I permitted them to have whatever they wanted, and 
at their request I gave them even the money back which I had 
taken during the search. They again bought so much to eat, to 
drink and to smoke that no soldier had to spend a grosz. 

As soon as the train moved I had to give them boarding-money, 
and I arranged the following trick. I always called first a rich 
prisoner, about whom I was sure that he did not care for these 
15 copecks. The man called refused the money and told the 
others in Armenian not to take it, and they all said as one man 
that they did not want the boarding-money. If a poorer one 

* This part of Wladek's behavior is all right from the standpoint of public 
opinion. The prisoners were mainly political offenders, and any act committed 
by themselves or by others to alleviate their lot was socially sanctioned. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 317 

happened to be among them and wanted the money, the richer 
ones gave him these 15 copecks and did not allow him to take them 
from me. Nevertheless, I called all of them in turn, and when I 
had performed this act I asked them in the presence of the soldiers 
whether they had any claims and whether they had received the 
money. They answered aloud that they had received the money 
and had no claims at all. Only then I was sure, for even if they 
complained they would not benefit at all. 

Besides this we had income from another source. We admitted 
into this car people as ^^ hares" [without tickets], and these paid 
us 2 roubles each for the journey. There were never less than 
10 roubles, sometimes more. But I never kept this money for 
myself; after coming to Erywan we ate and drank for it, and 
therefore the soldiers tried to get as many such "hares" as pos- 
sible. The conductors olt^n saw it and were angry as devils, 
but could do nothing, fo" tidy was allowed to enter the pris- 
oners' car except those €. ..* 4 whom I knew personally. And there 
were only two of theib^^th military chief and the chief of our 
detachment, and I knew well that they sat in Aleksandropol. 
Besides them, even if the emperor himself wanted to come in and 
I did not know him I had no right to admit him. Once when we 
had taken on an unusual number of "hares" the conductors told 
a general who was on the train. They did it out of spite, because 
we refused to share the profits with them. The doors of the car 
were locked; I had the keys in my pocket. I was calmly lying 
upon the sofa in the office when a soldier knocked at the door and 
said: "Some general wants to see you." I got rapidly up, put 
my belt in order, put on the revolver and sabre, left the office, 
closing it with the key, and approached the door behind which the 
general stood. There was a glass in the outer door and I could 
see him very well. I saluted him in a proper way and asked what 
he wanted. "Open!" answered the general. I asked for the 
second time what he wanted. "Open, I want to inspect the 
prisoners." — "It is not allowed," I answered. "How is that.^ 
It is not allowed? Don't you see who I am?" — "I see," I 
answered, "but I don't know you, so I have not the right." I 
excused myself and moved away from the door. The general 
swore violently, threatened me with his fist and went away, while 
I returned to my office. 

There was also an income from a third side, and this one I kept 



3 18 THE POLISH PEASANT 

wholly for myself. When we came to Erywan with the prisoners 
various people came to see them. This was also not permitted, 
but when people put some copecks into my hand, well, then it 
was permitted. In this way also some roubles were put together. 
But not every escorting was so. It happened that I scarcely 
earned enough to live, or even that I had to live on my boarding- 
money, of which we got 25 copecks a day. In Erywan we always 
spent two days and a night, and in returning we took prisoners 
again to Aleksandropol. It never happened during my service 
that a prisoner escaped. 

The following year, when new recruits came again, I was 
assigned to be their elder teacher, and now I seldom went with the 
escort. There was a Russian, Malcow, who would never learn 
and always pretended to be sick. Once I ordered them to dress 
and stand in line. My Malcow dressed also but would not stand 
in line. Although I told him to stand more than once, he an- 
swered that he was sick. I got into a terrible wrath for his re- 
fusing to listen in the presence of all, so in my anger I gave him 
an ear-box with my whole strength, so unfortunately that blood 
began to pour from his nose. He began to cry and bent over the 
bed, so that the blood from his nose dropped upon it and stained 
the cover. I caught him by the collar and pushed him away from 
the bed, and sent for the surgeon-assistant whom we had in the 
detachment. The surgeon-assistant came, stopped the blood and 
then approached me and began to abuse me in a half voice, saying 
that I had not the right to beat soldiers and that he would write 
a report against me. I was afraid, for it was forbidden to beat, 
but I gave no sign of it and began to drill the soldiers, while Malcow 
went with the surgeon.' This happened before nine, and at nine 
our chief was due at the barracks. A little before nine I sent a 
soldier to watch for him and when the soldier informed me that 
the chief was coming I went to meet him and bore a complaint 
against myself. The chief answered : " You did badly in beating 
him. You should have told me, and I would have punished him 
in my own way." — "I lacked patience," I answered. — "Well, 
the devil take him. And I will tell the surgeon not to mind things 

' Compare this abuse of authority with the case of the boy Stefan, in 
Grajewo (p. 240). Wladek had never had such an opportunity to satisfy 
his desire for recognition as during his military service, and was probably 
very jealous of his authority. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 319 

which are not his business." Then we both went into the barrack- 
room. The chief ordered Malcow sent for, told him to stand in 
line and would almost have added some more [beating]. The 
surgeon got a scolding also and thus my fear ended. After that 
Malcow improved, and the others also feared me more, for they 
were sure that I should sit in prison, or what would be worse, that 
one of my galloons would be taken away. . . . Meanwhile 
time flowed rapidly and our service was soon to come to an 
end. 

Suddenly one evening the chief came to our barracks and said 
there would be a review tomorrow, for the general was coming. 
He ordered us to prepare everything for gymnastics. "But we 
have neither a ladder nor a barrier." — "You must borrow them 
from another detachment." — " But the soldiers don't know how 
to do it." — "Then go at once, borrow them and teach the men a 
little today." [This battalion has no apparatus because it had 
been used as fire-wood in the winter. The plan is followed of 
putting the older men on the right wing, as the review usually 
began from that end, but the general begins with the left wing.] 
The general ordered our grades to be lowered, the sergeant-major 
to be put in prison for fifteen days, and made a remark to the 
chief. Such was our reward for the review. I and Grcgorow 
wanted to tell the general that we had no ladder nor barrier at 
all and that those were borrowed, but the chief noticed it and 
approached rapidly saying: "Don't grieve, I will give you back 
the grades which you have." We believed him and said nothing 
to the general. . . . Two weeks later an order came; I had to 
become a younger under-ofiicer, Gregorow a corporal, and the 
sergeant-major to sit in prison. And although we begged the 
chief to try to get back the grades we had before, he promised and 
postponed it, and finally we went thus into the reserves. 



Meanwhile there was sent to our detachment an under-ofiicer 
who had lost all his galloons. I was to escort my last party and 
this degraded ofiicer requested me to take him. [Goes without 
incident except that two university students among the prisoners 
pay him to allow them to ride to station in a cab.] Returning I 



320 THE POLISH PEASANT 

had many prisoners — thirty-two great criminals with handcuffs 
and leg-irons, and as many lesser offenders. The chief of the 
prison asked me whether I should be able to take as many with 
my men. I answered that I was a little afraid and asked for 
help. The chief telephoned, and some forty shooters [particular 
corps] with an older under-ofBcer came, but in spite of this I was 
the commander. Among the prisoners there was a young Greek 
girl who could not go as rapidly as the other prisoners and re- 
mained in the rear with me. We talked on the way, for she knew 
Russian, and I persuaded her to allow me to foolish with her in 
the car, but she warned me that among the prisoners was her 
betrothed and he might not permit it. ^' I shall find a way with 
him,*' I answered. Talking thus, we arrived at the station. The 
car was not yet there, so I told the prisoners to sit under the wall, 
surrounded them with my escort and sent the shooters back. 
Meanwhile we were followed by a still larger throng of people; 
they were the acquaintances and families of the prisoners, and 
they came to bid them farewell. They stopped about a hundred 
steps away, without daring to come nearer. Some were very 
rich, as could be seen from their broad golden belts. A few bolder 
ones drew a little nearer, but the menacing looks of the soldiers 
held them back. One clever man was found among them; he 
went into the waiting-room and gave me a sign to follow him. I 
left my assistant in my place and went. All these people waited 
only for this; they ran in throngs into the room. The man who 
had called me, when I asked him what he wanted, told me to drink 
whatever I wished. I did not let him repeat it and drank a few 
glasses of wine. But this was not the end, for he bought two 
bottles of good wine for me and gave me a rouble, asking for per- 
mission to bid his brother goodbye. I led him to his brother and 
let them talk, while I returned to the room where others waited 
for me. Everybody offered me something — half a rouble, some 
less, some more, and everybody got permission to talk for a few 
minutes. Moreover everybody treated me. Finally I would 
not drink more, for I was afraid of getting drunk, so they gave me 
whole bottles. The car was brought and I led the prisoners into 
it. We had to wait two hours and the farewells did not cease. 
Now all the soldiers profited of it, for vodka and wine were carried 
in bottles. I saw what was coming and asked the soldiers not to 
drink, but to keep those bottles for later; when we came to the 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 321 

barracks then we would drink. But not all of them listened to 
my words. At their head was that degraded under-ofiicer, and 
although I admonished him more than once, he did not listen at 
all. There were already about ten bottles of vodka and twice as 
much wine in my ofBce, and three teapots full of wine, and people 
carried still more. Some soldiers were quite drunk. I regretted 
much having permitted it in the beginning and prayed to God 
for the train to start, for I was in an awful fright. Finally the 
train started. I did not take the irons off, posted the more sober 
soldiers at the doors and windows and was continually among 
them. Suddenly I noticed that the degraded under-ofiicer began 
to flirt with the Greek girl in the presence of the prisoners, which 
could have unfortunate consequences. So I took the Greek girl 
and started to push her into my ofllice, but three or four prisoners 
got up and barred my way, saying: '^Mr. Elder, she has to go with 
us." Seeing that it was not a joke, I drew my revolver and pointed 
it at the first man, calling, ''Sit down!" They sat down, and I 
led her into the ofllice. There I had to guard her myself, for the 
window was not latticed. I did not think about foolishing with 
her, for I was in grief, but she did not allow me to sit quietly. At 
every moment she approached the pot and drank wine, persuading 
me to foolish. And so I foolished three times rather shortly, 
but forbade her seriously to drink any more wine, fearing she would 
get very drunk. Soon we had to begin for the fourth time, when 
Piechocki knocked at the door. I opened and noticed that he 
was very changed. I asked what had happened. "The prisoners 
have cut off the revolver of the degraded sergeant." — "The 
revolver? How? When?" I belted my sabre, rapidly took my 
revolver and jumped into the car. There all the soldiers were 
pressed together in one place and looked at me with terror, while 
that drunkard lay upon a betich among the prisoners. The cord 
of the revolver hung down, but the revolver was not there. His 
trousers were wet, for he had urinated and vomited. I took him 
by the collar and threw him down fl-om the bench, but he got upon 
his feet and with one movement drew his sabre and wanted to 
strike me with it. But I had the time to catch his hand and we 
began to struggle, while the sabre was up; but others came rapidly 
and helped me to tear his sabre away. I took the handcuffs of 
one prisoner off and put them upon his hands, for I could not 
quiet him although I gave him a dozen blows on the ear. Then 



322 THE POLISH PEASANT 

I began to search for the revolver, but although I omitted not a 
single spot I could not find it. I was almost crying, for if I did 
not find it I should be court-martialed and three years of the 
disciplinary battalion awaited me. Finally I mounted a bench 
and began to beg them to give the revolver back. I talked long 
to their hearts, and half with tears explained my position. Then 
the same man whose handcuffs I took off approached and said: 
"Don't cry elder, you are a good man. The revolver is in the 
toilet-room." In one jump I was at the door of the toilet-room. 
The revolver was tied to a string and hung down into the opening. 
When I drew it out it was in order, and all the balls were there. 
It was lucky that they had not killed some soldier, for they had an 
opportunity. I breathed freely and was very glad. I went to 
the office, where Piechotki had watched the Greek girl during the 
whole time of my search. I took his place, but I did not want to 
foolish any more, so I drove her out of the office, for I feared she 
would get quite drunk and cause me trouble. When we ap- 
proached Aleksandropol the former under-officer began to beg 
me to forgive him, but I threatened to bring him in fetters to the 
chief. He wanted to kiss my hands, but I did not permit it. 
Finally I took the handcuffs off and gave him his arms back. I 
poured out the wine of which the Greek girl drank, for I was dis- 
gusted to drink after her. I handed over the prisoners and warned 
the soldiers to be silent about this incident, lest it should come to 
the ears of the chief. When we undressed, we sent for zakqski 
and drinking began. Others drank with us. The year 1906 
revelled particularly, for after a few days we were to be set free, 
so we did not go to sleep during the whole night, but clamored, 
"Home, Home!'* 

On the night before leaving I could not sleep at all and spent 
the whole night in reflections. For, to tell the truth, I shared the 
joy that the service was finished, but where and for what should 
I return? I had sent long ago many petitions requesting to be 
admitted to some place, but everywhere I got the answer that 
they wanted nobody. I received, it is true, an offer to stay at 
Aleksandropol as a policeman, but I would not accept this job, 
for I could have the same in my country. I sent a petition to 
Siberia, for a place as forester in the province of Tomsk, but there 
was no place. I sent to Tiflis, for a place as railway-constable, 
but this also was in vain. I wanted to remain anywhere in order 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 3^3 

not to return to my country,' and particularly to my family, for 
my own father wrote me to try to get a place: "You know, dear 
son, that there is no home waiting for you, and again you will 
be obliged to wander.'* Everybody sent me a little money. The 
most liberal proved Aleksy, for he sent me 15 roubles, Stach three, 
father two, Pawel ten, Lucus, mother and brother-in-law together 
ten. In a word I cannot complain about my family, for every- 
body sent me something.* Only sister Marya forgot about me, 
while I knew from letters that she had a place as kindergarten 
teacher in Powiercie. I had written also a few letters to Mrs. 
Dora, and received an answer to every letter. She wrote that 
she was succeeding very well, but they had no children at all. 
She asked me not to forget her. About Kazia I knew nothing, 
where she was and what she did, for I did not have her address. 
Pawel wrote me that Miss Pelagia was married and my cousin 
Mania of Lodz had married a barber. 

I did not have it bad in the army, but I could not remain, so I 
had to return, willingly or not. And as I had no reason to go to my 
family I wrote a letter to Mr. K. in Kutno, asking him to take me 
to work again. I soon got a letter from him saying that I could 
come at any time. So I wrote that I would certainly come. I 
bought a nice civilian suit, a short warm overcoat, shoes, rubbers, 
a rather good winter-cap. I had a good valise full of linen and 
about 20 roubles of money. All my companions were going home 
in military dress; I alone had civil dress, for I had nobody to 
boast to with my uniform, while all of them were going to their 
native villages where their parents had some land and where they 
had girls, to whom they hastened to show themselves in their 
military outfit. To whom should I have hastened.^ Who was 
waiting for me? Nobody. I was not wanted by anybody. I 
felt pained and sad, and I began to cry, for crying was my only 
refuge, and in it I found relief. With such thoughts I was occu- 
pied on the night before leaving, when my companions were occu- 
pied with emptying bottles and singing.^ 

* He dreads the return to a milieu which subjects him to certain obliga- 
tions, however limited, especially since his disorganization by the Prussian 
trip and the army. 

' Helping the man who leaves military service is one of the traditionally 
established manifestations of solidarity. 

* There is much of the eabotin in his composition. (Cf. Vol. H, p. 503.) 
He enjoys playing with his loneliness and unhappiness. 



324 THE POLISH PEASANT 

[Embarks at Batum. Stormy passage. Received well in 
Kutno by Mr. K. and allowed to loaf and talk for two weeks with 
pay. Writes to his family.] After a time the older Miss D. 
looked at me rather often. I took it for good money and resolved 
to propose. With this purpose I composed a letter and sent it 
by mail. I had not long to wait for the answer, which came in the 
same way. She wrote: 

"Resp. Sir: Excuse me, but you should have thought sooner 
about it, for you had time enough. Now it is too late, for I am 
engaged to a baker of Lowicz, and if you don't believe me, ask 
Mr. K. Yours, W. D." 

So I was too late with my proposal. I regretted it much, for 
I thought about marrying her, starting a business on her dowry 
and ending thus my wandering, but I did not succeed.' There 
was indeed another sister, but this one did not please me at all, 
so I did not wish to court her. 

Meanwhile I received a letter from Stach, that he had got 
another and very good place in Sompolno. He wrote that he did 
not need any better place, and invited me for a few days to him. 
'^p to that time I had not thought about visiting, but now I 
felt the desire to visit my family. I was dressed rather decently. 
I had a few roubles of money, but I was not in a hurry to go.* 
But Mr. K. persuaded me himself to do it. [Engages a substitute 
for two weeks. While waiting for the coach in Kutno sees a 
veiled woman enter the railway-car whose figure resembles that 
of Kazia.] And in fact it was Kazia. I learned it later from her 

' The opportunity which he neglected four yetn ago seema now detirtble 
at a simple means of acquiring security without effort. We have seen that 
this passive regulation of life was what he sought in the army. Through 
all his adventures we notice a continual progress toward Philistinism, toward 
A regulation of b'fe, not in the form of a subordination of his erratic tendencies 
to the tendency to advance, but of a passive monotonousness of existence in 
identical conditions. The tramp is often a discouraged criminal; Wladek 
is a discouraged tramp. 

' The family has lost all its functions. It is no longer an object of the 
desire for response, as in the original peasant family, not even the object of 
the desire for recognition, as in the original community, and as it was with 
Wladek formeriy. And since it is no longer connected with the idea of home 
as a resting place, nothing remains but personal affection. How little of 
this element is in Wladek is proven by the fact that he is not in a hurry to go, 
after three years of absence, in spite of his pose of longing and loneliness. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 325 

parents. Angry with myself for not having accosted her, I left 
the station and soon departed to Leczyca, thinking during the 
whole way about Kazia. For it was the first time that I had 
thought seriously about her. And if I should really marry her 
now? Well, never mind the marriage, but what living could I 
give her? But even if perhaps we should not die of hunger, I 
had a more important reason not to marry her; I did not love her 
at all. Long ago she had evaporated out of my head. I ceased 
to think about her and turned my thoughts into another direction. 
I asked myself whether I should ever have my own bakery and 
thought how to accomplish it. 

[His father is on a farm, Brunowek. Wladek attempts to 
walk from the nearest station, but is wrongly directed to Bruno. 
Weather unusually severe, he half freezes, falls, is rescued by the 
manager of Brunowek and driven thither.] On the way we 
decided to deceive my father and to tell him that I was a clerk 
and came to take his place, while father would be dismissed. . . . 
Soon we drove into the farm-yard of Brunowek and noticed my 
father near the horse^stable. The manager said to my father: 
"Well, Mr. Wiszniewski, I bring you a successor. You are free 
to go." Father looked at me but did not recognize me, for he 
had not expected me at all, and had not seen me for more than 
four years. To the manager he answered only: "Well, let some- 
body else try this bread," and he started to go, but I sejzed him 
by his coat from behind and said: "Why are you so proud and 
don't even greet me?" Father turned toward me, stretched out 
his hand and looked for awhile into my eyes, and only then cried 
out: "Wladek!" — "Evidently I am," I answered, laughing and 
greeting father. 

I stayed there three days, for living did not cost father any- 
thing. Thence I went to Sosnowiec for my passport. I called 
on Mr. and Mrs. R., Dora's parents, and they kept me for the 
night. During the night an awful snow fell, it was impossible 
to go afoot and there was no coach, so Mr. and Mrs. R. advised 
me to stay with them for another night. Next day I went to 
Kolo, and there spent the night with Lucus, who treated me with 
a good supper. In the morning I went by post to Sompolno. 
My whole family, who lived with Stanislaw, were gathered in the 
kitchen, whence voices reached my ears. They were so occupied 
with themselves that they did not hear my entering. I lighted a 



326 THE POLISH PEASANT 

cigarette and behaved as silently as possible. Thus I stood per- 
haps for half an hour in the dark, for the lamp was not yet lighted. 
Suddenly sister Stefa came in and passed near the stove. I 
caught her by the dress and pulled her. But she thought it was 
Stach, and asked: '^ Shall I light the lamp?" I did not answer 
but pulled her harder. Then she got a little afraid and went into 
the kitchen, complaining to mother that there was somebody in 
the room. Then mother came in herself and I hid myself behind 
the door. When the lamp was lighted they did not notice me at 
once, but my cap and overcoat betrayed me. They began to 
look about the room and saw me.* . . . Everybody was glad to 
see me. The next day Stach asked me what I intended to do, to 
marry or to go to America. "Neither the one or the other. I 
intend first to gather money, and only then I shall think about 
what to do." 

At home, that is, in Stach's house, I spent two days. Just 
then the two weeks ended and I was in a fright. Still ... I 
spent another night with Lucus and went to Marya, and spent a 
few hours with her. Alas! I came back late and lost the work, 
for the workman whom I left in my place was sick with a venereal 
disease and two days after my leaving went to the hospital. Mr. 
K. worked alone for a few days then he took another baker and 
could not. dismiss him before the end of the four weeks. He 
could have done it, but he was angry with me, not for having 
come late, but for having left such a workman. He was ashamed 
that an infected baker was taken from his bakery to the hospital. 
I wanted to pay the baker for the whole four weeks, but he refused 
to do it. So there was no other way; I had to go wandering. 
I took my valise and went again to Sompolno in order to leave it 
there. I regretted much that I had lost a good place, and unjustly, 
for how could I know that my substitute was sick? But nothing 
could be done. Stach now tried to persuade me to marry and 
promised to lend me money for the wedding. He had even found 
a girl with a whole thousand of dowry, and he showed her to me. 
But she did not please me at all, and I did not want to think about 
it.» 

' His usual preparation of an effect; there is never an immediacy of 
feeling that would cause him to rush to his family or friends. 

* That his attitude toward marriage depends on his mood rather than 
the personality of the girl is shown by his behavior in the case of Wanda D., 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 327 

I wrote a petition to the head-forester who lived in Kolo, asking 
for a place as governmental forester, . . . and after a few days 
left Sompolno. I wandered in the direction of Lodz, finding no 
work. In Lodz I went straight to the bakers' hostelry, but did 
not sleep there, for Pawel took me to himself and I spent every 
night with him. Pawel worked now with another merchant, 
a very rich man, named Bogdanski. 

From Lodz I wandered in the direction of Warsaw. I wan- 
dered three weeks without finding work, . . . came back to 
Sompolno, thence further to Turek. In Turek I did not call on 
Mrs. Dora for I was not nicely dressed; I had still the suit which 
I bought in the army. From Turek I went to Lodz again, and 
there Pawei showed me a telegram from Stach telling me to come 
immediately to Sompolno to take a place as forester. I started 
back immediately. Pawel gave me money for the journey. But 
I came too late; another was sent in my place. ... I did not 
know any more which way to go. I spent two weeks with Stach, 
and although he looked at it very unfavorably, I did not care any 
more. At the same time my father also lost his position and 
came to Sompolno, so there were too many of us now at Stanislaw's 
expense. ... I wandered to Turek in order to beg the governor 
for at least a place as policeman, but he refused, saying that he 
had no free place, but advised me to go to Leczyca to the chief of 
the country-police, who would receive me certainly, for they lacked 
a few country-constables. I wandered to Leczyca . . . and was 
received. The chief said that my pay would count from this day, 
but I might still return home until the governor confirmed my 
appointment. I left the chief's office, very glad that I should not 
wander any more, but I had a new trouble. I did not know where 
to spend those few weeks. I did not want to wander, for I was 
disgusted with wandering. I resolved to go to sister Marya. She 
was alone, perhaps she would keep me those few weeks. I went 
to Powiercie, found Marya at home and begged her for hospitality 
for a few weeks, telling her how my affairs stood. Marya accepted 
me, though not very willingly. I had room enough to stay, for 
Marya lived alone in a whole old manor-house. Marya asked the 
manager to send her a sheaf of straw, and from this straw I made 

in Kutno, in his many hesitations with regard to Kazia, and finally, as we 
shall see, by his marriage. There comes a time when he will select, but then 
the personality of the girl will play little role. 



328 THE POLISH PEASANT 

a bed in the kitchen. The living did not cost my sister much, for 
she received everything from the manor except meat, bread and 
sugar. I earned for cigarettes by writing letters for women who 
came to my sister often enough. For every letter I received 15 
copecks. If sometimes I lacked money Lucas gave me some; I 
went very often to him, and he came from time to time to Powier- 
cie. The rest of the time I spent in reading books, of which my 
sister had many, among them very interesting ones. . . . 

But Marya did not prove a very good sister. She did not 
want even to cook a dinner for me, and if I wanted to eat I had 
to cook myself. Marya liked sometimes to bear tales between the 
manager and the gardener. Once I sat in the gardener's house, 
amusing myself with conversation, when sister Marya came and 
began to tell the gardener what the manager said against him. 
Then I said: ''You should rather leave it, Marya, and not tell 
what people say against each other." Then Marya, like a fury, 
jumped at me and with her full strength struck me on the face, 
sa3dng: "You tramp, don't mind my business." And she per- 
mitted herself to treat me thus in the presence of strangers. I 
arose from my seat, said, "Fury!" and left the room. Evidently 
I could have paid her back, but I did not want to do it, in order 
to appear wiser than she. And the gardener since then pities 
her, that is, her lack of reason. Such was, more or less, Marya's 
character. I never liked her. It happened that I had no money 
to buy cigarettes and asked her for 3 copecks, but she never once 
gave them to me, although I tr^ed to be good and helped her 
wherever I could. More than once I taught the children during 
a whole day while she went to talk or to Kolo to her friends. But 
she did not appreciate it. And I had to stay there, for I could not 
go anywhere else. Sometimes she went to the manager, to the 
gardener or to some woman and ate there, for she did not want to 
cook. In a word, my days were heavy with Marya. 

[After two weeks invited by his brother-in-law to make a visit. 
Hospitably treated and makes a good impression. Reports for 
service.] Father lent me 6 roubles, for which I bought boots, and 
I rb. 50 was left. I had one rouble from my brother-in-law and 
Stach gave me one, and with this as capital I went to take my place. 
I came to Leczyca in the evening. The police sergeant led me at 
once to a lodging where bachelor constables lived, and promised 
to come the next day and give me further information. In that 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 329 

lodging there was a kitchen stove, so I cooked my supper and went 
to sleep.' Next morning the sergeant came and gave me con- 
stable clothes, for which I had to pay later, a sabre, an old-fashioned 
gun, a browning, a dozen packages of cartridges, and my service 
began. My whole occupation was to stand two shifts of six 
hours on the street; t. ^., twelve hours a day. But this happened 
only once a week, and the rest of the time I only loafed from tavern 
to tavern. The sergeant was very good and I crept rapidly into 
his favor. He told me to copy various circulars into a book. 
The chief was very severe, and God forbid that he should meet a 
drunken constable! Immediately he put him into prison. But 
he allowed tips, only without witnesses. 

Winter approached and I had wasted almost a year in nothing. 
I was to get my first salary on the 20th of the month. I served 
on the following conditions: 15 roubles a month of salary, 40 
roubles a year for clothes, 10 roubles for soap, oil and straw for 
mattresses. A married man received besides this 50 roubles for 
lodging. The salary was small indeed, 50 copecks a day, but we 
took tips, wherever and whatever we could, and it was almost 
possible to live on the tips alone. Moreover, very often some- 
body treated us with a glass of vodka, and with the vodka there 
was also a zakiiska, I could not get any tip in the beginning, for 
I did not know all the ways, and I had to live on my salary. But 
I was satisfied even with this, for at least I did not need to tramp 
about the world. 

Winter passed thus and summer came without any incidents. 
I wrote from time tatime to my family, but corresponded mainly 
with Pawei, for bad fortune had united us much. He asked my 
advice, whatever he wanted to do, and I asked for his. Never a 
week passed without my receiving a letter from him. To Aleksy 
alon^ I did not write at all, and I had not seen him since I came 
back from the army. He came once to Sompolno, it is true, while 
I was there, but I went out in order not to meet him, for I was 
angry with him. If he had wished he could have found a much 
better place for me than the one I had. 

[Sent temporarily to Poddfbice to guard the post office.] 

' The acceptance of a constable's position represents a further lowering 
of his social claims. The constable or policeman in Russian Poland was 
generally despised because he was serving voluntarily a hated government 
and because he took tips. 



330 THE POLISH PEASANT 

It happened often that many telegrams came to be delivered from 
Poddfbice, and the postman could not carry them alone and took 
somebody to help him. The carrying of such telegrams was well 
paid, 15 copecks for every wiorsta, and I^agreed with him to cany 
them, but secretly, without the other constables knowing it. I 
earned every day some money, sometimes as much as i rb. 50. 
But I had to run ten wiorsta for it, mostly at night, and I did not 
know the neighborhood at all. It happened that I got so wet that 
water streamed from me, but I did not complain and often treated 
the postman so that he would give me as many as possible. When 
Kukula asked sometimes where I was I answered, "With a girl," 
and put my money aside. So we spent a whole month there, and 
Kukula requested a change, for he was tired of staying in Podd^- 
bice where he could earn nothing. So Kukula left, and in his 
place I received another companion, a Moscovite. I did not want 
any change, for I was better off here than in Leczyca. Living 
cost me little, for the priest gave me as many potatoes as I wanted; 
cabbage was not difficult to get either, for I went at night, cut a 
few heads with my sabre and brought them home, and if I asked 
somebody he sent me a whole mendel [15]. I got more and more 
acquainted with people and many treated me. My companion 
was not at all careful [did not know how to get anything], and I 
always told him that I bought the potatoes or cabbage and he had 
to pay half. I went into the field where people were digging 
potatoes and always knew how to talk with the manor-owner and 
get a few baskets. Then again when I carried a telegram in the 
day-time I went to some peasant woman and sometimes succeeded 
in getting a piece of butter or a chicken. If the chicken was fat 
I killed it, if it was thin I fed it, keeping it under the bed. Of course 
if my companion wanted to share it with me he had to pay. In 
a word, I tried hard on all sides to make money and was satisfied 
with my existence. I did not leave the butler at the manor in 
peace either, but went often to him for supper, and I did not 
cease to carry telegrams.* It happened but very seldom that 

' His greed and activity become boundless and unscrupulous. He never 
had many scruples, and those which he had disappeared under the influence 
of the tipping system in the army. His greed is not altogether that of the 
miser, nor is it that of a man who collects money for a determined purpose. 
The idea of a bakery is revived later under the influence of Pawel. He collects 
rather from an interest in the activity — as an exercise of his wits. 



it 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 331 

even the postmaster invited me to dinner. And people began 
already to mate me, but I did not even think about it, for my ideal 
was to put aside enough money and then to establish my own 
bakery. And thus time flowed monotonously. 

[Has a telegram to carry to the priest in Domaniewo and re- 
members that the Ds. now live there.] On the way I wanted a 
drink and went to a farmer, asking him for water, but he refused 
to give it at once, which astonished me, for I saw a well in his yard. 
He wanted to give me milk, but I stuck to my request, and the 
more obstinate he was the more I insisted. Finally I took a bucket 
to draw water myself from the well, and I wanted to learn why 
he was so unwilling to give me of his water. But the farmer ran 
after me, took his cap off and began to beg my pardon for having 
a well not covered with planks, for the law forbade such wells. 
It is very bad, farmer. Somebody might have fallen in." — 
Why, I know it, but one always prepares and cannot decide to 
do it. But I tell you, sir, in a week it will be covered, and forgive 
me this time." — "I won*t do you any harm, I will only write 
your name down." And I took a notebook from my pocket and 
approached the tablet which was above the farmer's door in order 
to see his name. While I was occupied with this the farmer 
went into the house, but did not stay long, and when I was going 
away he put a piece of paper into my hand and begged me not to 
make any complaint about him. "All right," I answered, "I 
won't, but in a week I shall come back, and if it is not done you 
won't persuade me then to forgive you." When I was far enough 
away I looked at what he had given me and it was a three^rouble 
note. "Stupid farmer!" I thought, "for this money he could have 
covered his well." And I laughed at his simplicity, for if he had 
not given a reason himself I should never have thought about 
looking into his well. But it was all right, for he gave me the 
opportunity of earning, incidentally, 3 roubles. 

[Welcomed by the Ds. Mrs. D. weeps from joy. Wladek 
sends out for vodka. Learns that it was Kazia whom he saw in 
Kutno. She was on her way to Warsaw to Pelagia, who had 
married a workman. Kazia is now there with a dressmaker.] 
On the way back I thought about Mr. and Mrs. D. and still more 
about their daughters, who had no luck at all in marrying. Miss 
Pelagia married a factory workman, but made no career at all, 
and Mr. D. forbade them to talk about him at home. Kazia was 



332 THE POLISH PEASANT 

of my SLgt and could not find a boy either, and now Miss Helena, 
young and very pretty, had no suitor at all; at least she said so. 
Bronis was also spending a life not to be envied. They had no luck. 

After that I visited them very often and was always kindly 
greeted. Mrs. D. called me again her son-in-law, as in old times. 
Once I laughed saying: ''Would you give your daughter to a 
constable?*' * — "Why not? I don't see the constable, but Mr. 
Wladek, and whoever he is I would give him my daughter. But 
he is not in a hurry to marry my daughter.'' And she was right. 
I was not in a hurry, for I had had her address for a long time and 
had not written a letter. 

At this time I received a letter from my parents, who were 

again in their own home. Stach, Aleksy and Pawel put some 

money together and established a small shop for father in Rusz- 

kowo, a village six wiorsta from Sompolno, in order to free Stach, 

for he wanted absolutely to marry.' At this time I was transferred 

to Ozorkow, and soon Pawel visited me there. After the usual 

conversation, Pawel asked me how much money I had. I told 

him the truth; I had at this time about 40 roubles. "Why do 

you not put them in a bank? The interest would grow." — "Is 

it worth while putting those few roubles into a bank? Moreover, 

I am today here, tomorrow in some other town." — "I will tell 

you something," said Pawel. **Give this money to me; I will 

put it in a bank in Lodz, and whenever you have a few roubles, 

and even one rouble, send them to me. I will put them in the bank 

and gradually you will gather enough for a bakery. I will give 

you a note every time." Pawel's suggestion pleased me, and I 

gave him those 40 roubles. From that time I sent him every 

month almost my whole salary, and had to do my best in order 

to live. Sometimes, it was very difficult, for I did not succeed 

always in earning, but in some way or another it went on and 

Pawel was satisfied with me.^ 

' One of the many proofs that Wladek is conscious of his low social stand- 
ing as a constable. 

* At last a solution of the family problem is found, but it took almost 
six years to find it. This shows the degree to which even the practical organi- 
zation of life is dependent on tradition, and how difficult it is to make a practi- 
cal arrangement that is not in the line of the old association of ideas. 

3 Pawel's influence arouses again the climbing tendency. Left to himself 
Wladek would probably have remained a constable, unless stimulated by 
marriage. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 333 

[Becomes acquainted with a shoemaker, Mr. G., who has a 
rather well instructed daughter. She lives at home, but teaches 
the children of a factory owner.] Although I called there almost 
every day I did not know Miss Helena well. Although we talked 
with each other whenever we met we never shook hands. First, 
I felt well enough even without her, and secondly, she was awfully 
proud, never allowed any boy to call and never walked with any. 
She was not young any more, hardly one year younger than I. 
And I was also proud and did not want to try too much to get her 
sympathy. I was satisfied with a superficial acquaintance. Once 
when I was leaving their house sooner than she (for she came there 
every day for some time), I shook hands with her father, said to 
her only " goodbye " and started to leave. But Miss Helena stopped 
me, sa3dng: "How is it, Mr. W.? Why don't you ever shake 
hands with me ? I don't know why you act thus. Please explain." 
— "I beg your pardon very much. Miss Helena, but I did not 
think that you cared for it. And then you came home and found 
me here and never made the first step, never stretched out your 
hand,»so I thought that you did not care for it at all. Moreover, 
women have priority." — " But I am not yet a woman and I have 
no priority," laughed Miss Helena. "Then let it be as you wish, 
and from today we shall shake hands." Saying this, I approached 
and stretched out my hand. After this our friendship grew, and 
there was not an evening, if I was not on duty, that we did not 
discuss serious questions. I met my match, for she did not allow 
herself to be "talked over," but had an answer to everything. 
Gradually the friendship grew into a little love and it went farther 
and farther. And her father praised much the qualities of his 
daughter. He did not forget to tell me that Miss Helena had in 
the bank 600 roubles, and showed me her clothes, of which there 
was a big chest full. I had not much against it, only it was my 
misfortune that I did not know how to love. On warm summer 
nights, we went into the garden of the factory owner and there 
we either sat or walked, listening to the song of the nightingale. 
Such evenings passed very pleasantly. I liked very much to 
talk with her, and we never lacked subjects of conversation, for 
Miss H. had read rather much and knew something to say about 
every subject. This was my first acquaintance with such a 
developed girl, and I can really call her a woman-man. Moreover, 
she was always in her place. In a word, I had nothing to reproach 



334 THE POLISH PEASANT 

her for, but up to this time I had not proposed, for I could not 
decide what to do, and days and weeks passed. 

Meanwhile I was putting money aside and had already a rather 
large sum. But it happened more than once that after sending the 
money I had nothing with which to buy my breakfast and had to 
work hard with my head to find out where to get some money. 
Up to that time I had not denounced anybody to the court. I 
was judge myself. This did not please the other constables or the 
sergeant, but they could never catch me. I had a whole band 
of street-boys who informed me about everything that was hap- 
pening against the law. Of course I had to give them a few copecks 
for drink, for I could not drink with them lest I should be noticed. 
I was thus informed about ever3rthing and always profited more 
or less. And how many means there were to earn! For example, 
it was forbidden to play cards for money, either in a private house 
or in a tavern. As soon as the players intended to gather anywhere 
I knew it beforehand, and when they expected me the least I 
entered as if to arrest them, but it ended in paying. Even if they 
crept into the narrowest comer I found them. 

Meanwhile I received a letter from my parents saying that 
they would keep the shop in Ruszkowo only until New Year, 
for the house where they lived had been bought by somebody else 
and the new proprietor would keep the shop himself. So I re- 
flected much upon what to do to help my parents. Finally I 
resolved to marry, establish my own bakery and take my parents 
to me. I did not want to lose any time, but resolved to propose 
to Miss Helena the same evening. I had a day off duty and I 
spent the whole of it composing what I would say to her. At the 
usual hour I went to Mr. G.'s home and according to our habit 
we played dominoes and at the same time wrote love-notes to 
each other. Upon each scrap of paper I gave her to understand 
that I intended to ask for her hand today and wrote once that 
when I accompanied her today I would tell her something impor- 
tant. She answered: ^^ I am very curious; if it is not good rather 
don't tell me at all." The game ended sooner than usual and we 
went into the garden in silence; if we exchanged some words they 
were not at all adapted to our actual mood. Finally Miss H. 
interrupted this gloomy silence, saying: "Well, Mr. W., you had 
something to tell me and I am very curious to hear it.** — "I 
intended to tell you, but since you are very curious I will say 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 335 

nothing.** — "No, no, I am not curious any more, only tell me.'* 
I wanted to tell her long ago, but I did not know how to begin the 
matter, for although we had known each other for a rather long 
time, and I was almost sure that I was loved by her, I was not bold 
in her presence and never tried to kiss her. Perhaps I did not 
love her enough and this made me timid. For I must confess 
that I had dreamed about a different love, not the one I felt for 
Miss H. For if I wanted to marry her it was rather a matter of 
business. She pleased me very well, for she was reasonable, 
serious, knew how to talk, was not ugly, and, what was most 
important for me, had a rather big dowry, for which a good bakery 
could be established. But there could not be a question of love, 
for I understood well what love was but did not know how to do 
it. Perhaps my time had not yet come. But now it was too 
late to retreat, or rather it was not too late, but I wanted to im- 
prove my existence and did not want to retreat. So when we 
approached a bench I said: "If you want to know, then please sit 
down here and hear what I will tell you. But first, I request you, 
don't interrupt until I finish." — "All right, I promise to do it." 
Saying this Miss H. sat down and I near her, and I began: "Miss 
Helena, certainly you could have guessed already my intentions 
with regard to you, for you would have been blind not to notice 
them. And although you knew them you did not avoid me. It 
means, in my opinion, that I am not repulsive to you either. As 
to me, I have felt respect and sympathy for you from the first 
moment, and today I resolved to declare my love to you. So, I 
beg you, deign to answer me positively whether or not you will 
go with me the way of life and share with me good or bad fortune." 
— " Indeed I don't understand what you want to say. Please 
speak more clearly," answered Miss H. Then I took her hand, 
pressed it to my lips and said: "Then I will speak clearer. Will 
you become my wife?" When I said this, and during this whole 
speech, I was as if in hot water. When I said those last words 
Miss H. did not tear her hand away, only answered: "Mr. W., 
I was not prepared for such a question and an answer requires 
some reflection. I hope you won't take it in bad part if I don't 
answer at once but reflect a few days about it and then give you 
a positive answer. For I confess sincerely that I am greatly 
afraid. I have seen so many unhappy marriages and I take from 
them a lesson for myself. I am not a very young girl, and from 



336 THE POLISH PEASANT 

this you can conclude that I am not in a hurry to many. For I 
represent marriage to myself in a very different way from that of 
my various friends who think only about marrying, and don't 
care what their husbands are doing outside of their homes, pro- 
vided they give them the money they earn. For me it would not 
be enough. I could not bear to have my husband spend his free 
time outside of the home, walking from tavern to tavern and 
finally return drunk and quarreling. And because I have not 
met such a man up to the present time I am girl to this day and 
feel very well. I prefer rather to remain an old maid than to 
make such a career as some of my friends." Here she named a 
few of them whom I knew also, and she was right, for their life 
was not a pleasure. 

[Promised an answer in a week.] When I left her I did not 
go to sleep but near the river in order to reflect about what I had 
heard from Miss Helena. As the reader knows, we had talked 
very seriously for lovers. I was sure that after such a long speech 
I should receive a basket, for I belonged also to those who loafed 
from tavern to tavern while I was putting money aside, and she 
knew it well. But I considered myself excused, for I did not 
serve in order to serve forever, but only to earn enough to establish 
a business of my own; so I did not select the means which led to 
earning a few copecks. And in the tavern it was most easy to 
earn or to learn something. And I had also another benefit, for 
with a glass of liquor, according to the Polish custom, there was 
also a zakiiskaj and I did not need to buy any food. Therefore I 
did not avoid the tavern, and Miss H. knew it. But never up to 
this time had I got drunk, for the chief disliked it, and it was 
necessary to guard one's self against it. It was quite possible 
that Miss H. considered me a drunkard, but I did not care what 
she thought about me, for I was occupied exclusively with my ideal 
and often discussed this subject with her. But she knew my 
habits, and thi^ in my opinion, was why she asked for time to 
reflect. This had humiliated me a little. But again I asked my 
own reason whether I should lose much in losing Miss Helena 
forever. And I had also an answer to this question; I should 
not lose much. I had indeed besides her many other girls, but 
they were mostly factory-girls, impossibly spoiled. I should 
prefer to take the worst servant than such a factory-girl. There 
were exceptions, but where can you find them? Well, but Kazia 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 337 

still lived, and should I not meet still better and richer girls than 
Miss H.? So thinking, I prepared myself for every possibility. 
She gave me a hope indeed that she would perhaps give me her 
hand, but hope is very deceitful. Even the shipwrecked man in 
the middle of the ocean has hope and with this hope goes to the 
bottom of the sea. How often I was deceived by hope during the 
twenty-five years of my life! The reader knows what I had 
enjoyed in this world. And my constable-service, was it agree- 
able, with those 50 copecks a day. How often it was necessary 
to give offense to people in order to earn a few copecks! How 
many insults and curses those people sent toward the constable! 
And how often some drunkard insulted the constable openly in 
the middle of the street, and the public witnessed it, and was 
merry that this had happened to a constable. And he had no 
more consideration than a dog, for the public even called us " dogs 
with mouthpieces.'' And I had to bear all this for the sake of 
bread. And it happened that some old woman got drunk, and 
I had to lead her to prison, and she clamored aloud: ^'You dog's 
blood, you thief, you drunkard, you whore's man! You get 
drunk yourself, and you don't allow me to do it?" And what 
could be done? It was impossible to shut her muzzle and she 
clamored until the prison door closed behind her. In a word it 
was not an enviable service. Therefore not a single intelligent 
or somewhat instructed policeman can be met in the whole Rus- 
sian Empire, for nobody who knows how to respect himself wants, 
to be a policeman. But for me it was better than tramping about 
the world, for as long as I tramped I was nothing, had nowhere to 
sleep and nothing to eat, while now, if I was nothing, I had at 
least enough to eat and a place to sleep; so I preferred this. All 
my brothers had ceased to write to me, except the wise Pawel; 
the others were ashamed of my being a constable. From my 
brother-in-law I received letters indeed, but in every letter he 
gave me to feel that I was a constable. So, after a good reflection, 
it was not so bad of me if I wanted to marry without great love.* 

' While he treats the matter as a piece of business he misses the senti- 
mental element he was accustomed to find in such relations, and his desire 
for response was rebu£Fed by the criticism of the girl. A period of reflection 
is due at this point under any circumstances, and the reflections are substi- 
tuted for the response he failed to get. The poem below is a conscious effort 
to gain this response and a higher standing, and in this he also fails. 



338 THE POLISH PEASANT 

Thus I dreamed, walking on the riverside, and the sun was 
already high in the heavens, but I did not want to return to my 
home. I thought further about Miss Helena. Suddenly the 
idea came to me to compose some verses about her, as a proof that 
I did not sleep during the whole night but thought of her, and then 
to show it to her. So I drew a note-book from my pocket and 
began to write. I did not succeed soon, but after long labor I 
wrote what I wished about myself and my declaration: 

I wander during a quarter of a century 
As if not a man, but a bird, an eagle. 
I had shattered more than one cloud 
But I did not find what I wanted. 

Once I met a dark cloud 
And raised up my eyes; 
I saw a star shining clearly, 
And she tore my heart away. 

So I took a decisive step 

And asked the little star for her hand. 

But she said: "O little man, I am not in a hurry; 

As to this — I shall reflect." 

And although this star shines in the azure, 
There is death, not life, in my heart. 
For she tore my heart from my breast. 
I die from longing 
While she capriciously hesitates. 

So have pity on me, little star! 
Let us make a nest together. 
And decide it soon; let me not wait. 
For with every day life flies away. 

These verses, it is true, are not such as a poet or a learned man 
would compose, but only a constable composed them, so I beg the 
reader to excuse me for having put them here, but they pleased 
me, because they were true. I wrote them not for the world, but 
for myself and for Miss H. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 339 

After writing those verses I returned to my room, copied them 
upon a clean sheet of paper and put them in my pocket in order 
to give them to Miss H. during the evening. I kept the original 
as a remembrance for myself. When we met in the evening I 
said to Miss H.: "Please read these verses which I found in a 
book." But she did not let herself be cheated, and recognized 
at once that it was my own composition, for she recognized her 
own words. So she said: "Mr. W., you wrote them yourself, 
you did not find them in a book." She said only this after reading 
my verses. I wanted her to give them back, but she kept them 
for remembrance. 

A week passed rapidly and I was to hear her verdict. Toward 
the end of the week I received a letter from Pawel in which he 
wrote me that he would come the following Sunday to talk over 
some business. I did not know what business it was, but I was 
sure that whatever Pawel said would be good. [She agrees to 
marry him if he will quit the constable business and establish a 
bakery.] I was raised to the fifth heaven by my success in reach- 
ing this "black cloud." For she was also a brunette, tall, strongly 
built, with a white and very delicate complexion. Her big black 
eyes had above them long arches of black eyebrows. 'She was 
not very beautiful, but not ugly — an average town girl. But 
she had an intelligence much above the average. After leaving 
my betrothed I returned home in order to reflect about what I 
had done, for the best ideas came to me while I lay in my bed with 
closed eyes. I did the same today and reflected long, but found 
nothing bad in what I had done. 

On Sunday at ten in the morning Pawel was already with me. 
I had written him something about Miss H. and he was very 
curious to see his future sister-in-law. We went for breakfast to 
a restaurant, and Pawel spoke as follows: "Wladek, you know 
that our parents will stay in Ruszkowo only until New Year, so 
I would advise you to establish a bakery in company with them. 
For you it would be better and for our parents it would not be bad. 
This is precisely the business on which I came to you." "But, 
Pawel, I have not money enough to establish a bakery and I am 
afraid to begin with such a small sum." — " It will be enough," 
said Pawel. "Now you have 145 roubles and it is two months 
till New Year; if you send me your salary for two months you will 
have nearly 200. I will lend you 50 more, and our parents have also 



340 THE POLISH PEASANT 

something, so it will be quite enough to establish a bakery. And 
if you still lack some money I will lend you more. Now it de- 
pends only upon you, whether you agree.*' [Agrees. Is to make 
a preliminary visit home. Pawel is to send him civil clothes. 
They sit until noon.] Just then I noticed Miss Helena going to 
the church. I said: "Look, Pawel, there is your future sister-in- 
law." Pawel looked and said: "Come, we shall also go to the 
church, perhaps I shall be able to observe her." ... As soon as 
we were outside of the church Pawel said to me, "Do you know, 
Wladek? Although I like you, I will tell you at once that your 
girl does not please me at all. (Pawel did not know that I had 
proposed already.) I advise you, as a good brother, leave her, 
while there is tiihe. Why, she is rather old, looks like a cook, and 
you fell in love with her, you, Wladek.^ Have yo^ Jio younger 
and prettier ones? I am much surprised at you, '«k|<-^ I will tell 
you truly that if you want to marry her the whole rel£|».ion between 
us will be broken. Well, perhaps it is not so strange for such old 
girls know well how to set snares for young boys." f was rather 
offended with Pawel in the beginning, but as he and I liked each 
other and usually told each other the truth, I was silent at first, 
and then began to relate Miss Helena's good qualities — that she 
was rather instructed, wise, serious. I did not forget to tell either 
that she had a rather big dowry, 600 roubles. "You are silly," 
cried Pawel, already half angry (and I must add that he was very 
impetuous), "I tell you that every old girl is wise and serious, 
sometimes even too wise. I advise you to leave off these silly 
dreams. I don't deny that she can be a suitable wife for a con- 
stable, for constables usually marry cooks. Have you already 
fallen so deeply in love with her that you cannot lea** her?" 
Finally I told him about my proposal and explained the reason 
I did it. After listening, Pawel said : " I cannot blame or condemn 
your intentions, but now according to our agreement you have 
no reason to marry her, for you have other duties, duties with 
regard to our parents. Let them live with you for some three 
years, and during this time you can find a more suitable wife." — 
"You speak well, Pawel, but can I retreat now, when I have pro- 
posed already." — " Oh, you ! Are you the only man who breaks off 
with a girl? There are cases when people separate at the moment 
of wedding. I have proposed already more than once, and don't 
think of marrying. If you don't want to break off try to make 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 341 

her despise you; there are plenty of means. Tell me positively 
what you intend to do with your Miss Helena, that I may know 
what to think about you." After reflecting awhile I answered: 
"I will try to follow your advice. Be sure and count upon me.*' 
And we sat for a long time, emptying glasses which Pawel ordered 
at his own expense from joy that I had listened to him.' Mean- 
while the evening came, and Pawel was to leave at ten. Now 
it was seven, so we went to walk about Ozorkow and arranged 
plans for the future, without mentioning Miss H. at all. We 
happened to pass before her, house and only then I remembered 
that the formal betrothal was to be today. 

[Explains to Miss H. that he could not come on account of 
PawePs visit.] "And I was a little tipsy and Would not come to 
my betrothi ^ in such a condition." I tried to kiss her, but she 
pushed me ghtly away. To tell the truth I was glad in my soul 
that she was *.ngry with me. I did not try to get a kiss by violence, 
drew farther away and lighted a cigarette. "All right," said Miss 
Helena, "bi*t why did you not tell me everything? I am very 
curious what your brother said about me after leaving the church." 

— "He said nothing which could offend you. You pleased him 
rather and even if it were not so, has my brother any right to 
select a wife for me? I am of an age to (dispose freely of myself, 
and neither my brother needs to select a wife for me nor I for him. 
So I think that I have satisfied your curiosity." — "Only in part, 
for I see that you want to put me off with mere words. But be 
it so. And can I know what business your brother had with you?" 

— "Yes and no, for those are family matters about which you will 
learn a little later, and please be patient." Finally we became 
bored • 'Hi talk which led to nothing, and I said: "So you won't 
be reconciled today and we shall separate in anger?" — "Let the 
person who is guilty beg for reconciliation." — "In that case let 
me be guilty." And I began to beg her pardon. Miss H. waited 
only for this, and forgave me at once. When I had kissed her 

* The incident shows the power of familial feeling at this stage of culture. 
Wladek was prepared to leave the girl anyway, but the criticisms of Pawe) 
are irresistible. Standards of matrimonial eligibility — age, beauty, etc. — 
are traditionally determined, and the individual who does not follow them 
lowers his social standing and that of the family, since it is assumed that he 
could not do better. The situation is the same as in the case of the girl who 
will not marry an old man or a cripple. Pelagia would not think of marrying 
a man who was undersized. 



342 THE POLISH PEASANT 

hand and lips, she said: ^^Let it be for the last time, for another 
time you won't succeed so easily in getting my forgiveness." — 
"And perhaps I shan't need it any more." I thobght.' After that 
evening I began to call more rarely and did not mention the en- 
gagement. Miss H. complained often about my indifference, but 
I excused myself always in some way. And after this I did not 
get a single kiss, and I did not try at all to get any. 



[Gets a week's leave and starts to Lddz to join Pawel. Mean- 
time Stach had married his Wanda, "who carried her chin higher 
than her nose," and had not invited Wiadek, fearing that he would 
come in his constable's uniform and disgrace the family. Pawel 
learned of this and refused to go to the wedding. In Lodz Pawei 
provides himself abundantly with wine, etc., and they start toward 
their parents in Ruszkowo, but stop in Straszewo to see their 
brother-in-law. Are enthusiastically received and announce that 
they have come to get drunk. Leaving, they take the brother- 
in-law and sister along, '^ resolved to seek impressions and not to 
omit a single tavern on the way." On the way they send a tele- 
gram to Stach in Sompolno: "Lodz, Ozorkow and Straszewo in 
Sompolno." Members of the party separately and secretly buy 
brandy and food for the parents. Plan of the bakery explained 
to the parents.] ' Everybody was glad, particularly mother, and 

' Here as always Wladek avoids radical acts or words that would produce 
an unpleasant response; and this is compatible with the most cold and brutal 
egotism. He does not care how much pain he produces, provided there is 
no outbreak. 

*This trip suggests the old Polish "kulig,'* a form of amusement used 
by the nobility during carnival up to the last century and later, but whose 
spirit became traditional. A party went from manor to manor, staying for 
some hours and dancing, eating and taking their hosts with them, while some 
of those who had joined the party earlier might leave. Every one was sup- 
posed to receive the kulig, expected or unexpected, at whatever time it arrived, 
and failure to show the best hospitality led to a loss of standing equivalent 
to an exclusion from society. The function of the present trip was to establish 
a solidarity of emotions above the diversity of interests, and it is noticeable 
that this aim was largely conscious. They bought liquor ''for the way," 
because they "feared they might get too sober," and ''wanted to be in a very 
good disposition." 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 343 

from all sides praises were given to Pawel for trying to help others. 
When we had eaten and drunk everything, we prepared to go to 
Stach, where we were to stay over night, either to sleep or to 
drink. At 12.30 we left Ruszkowo, taking with us mother and 
Stefa, to be with us at this "ball," as brother-in-law called the 
future amusement in Stach's house. I cried in our parents' 
house from emotion, well, and from abuse of SchnapSy but when 
we started I was already sober and merry. In less than an hour 
we stood before the school of Sompolno. We did not knock at the 
front but at the rear, for the bed-room was there. We knocked 
at the window, the maid opened the door and Stefcia went in. 
But although she stayed there some minutes no light appeared 
and Stach did not come to meet us. So we were sure that he was 
not at home, but Stefcia came out and said that Stach had no 
place to receive us, for the floor in the living-room was freshly 
painted and his wife slept in the bed-room. As soon as Stefa 
said this brother-in-law and Pawel were upon the street. But I 
would not believe what Stefcia said, and went into the kitchen. 
The door from the kitchen to the bed-room was open, so I stood 
in the kitchen and said: "Good evening, Stach." When he 
answered I asked: "Can I come farther?" But the voice of my 
sister-in-law answered: "No! No!" I did not wait any longer, 
but went out through the courtyard upon the street. There I 
found our coach, mother, Stefcia and Florcia. The latter asked 
me: "What did Stach say?" — "Nothing, only sister-in-law did 
not allow me to go into the room." Then we bade goodbye to 
mother and Stefcia,* for they were to stay with Stach over night. 
Florcia and I mounted the coach, I threw the last words: "Re- 
main with God, mother, and thank Stach for his hospitality," 
and we started. I noticed that mother was crying.' Soon we 
overtook brother-in-law and Pawel much downcast by this inci- 
dent, particularly brother-in-law, for he pitied his wife who had 
to spend the night without sleep. We began to reflect where to 
go. "Do you know, boys?" said brother-in-law, "let us go to my 

' As in the case of Aleksy, the wife is not assimilated to the husband's 
group and there is a struggle for solidarity between the large family and the 
marriage-group. In this case the isolation of the marriage-group appears 
not only as familial, but as communal, since they put themselves, not only 
outside of the family, but outside of the social circle of the family and into 
another class. This leads, as we shall see, to a boycott of Stach. 



344 THE POLISH PEASANT 

kuniy Zawadzki's forester in the forest of Lubotyn." — "Let us 
go," we answered, and went, but not so merry as before. Nobody 
said a word more about Stach. [Entertained by the forester. 
Wiadek reaches Ozorkow] one day sooner, for I had expected to 
spend this day with Stach. 

I wrote at once a request for dismission. I went to Miss H., 
but only to spend my time, and neither she nor I mentioned the 
formal engagement. Besides this nothing changed in our rela- 
tions, only since that last reconciliation we had not kissed. When 
she asked me where I was I said that I was searching for a bakery 
for our common life. Pawel wrote me a long letter informing me 
how I was to act, and asked me whether I had a floor freshly 
painted and would receive him if he came. During the sixth week 
I was discharged. I had served one year and two months. I 
sold my household effects for lo roubles, bade Miss Helena good- 
bye, promising her to write often, engaged horses and started to 
Ruszkowo. I had 80 roubles with me and 130 more with Pawel. 
This much I succeeded in putting aside during a year of service. 
And the recent visit cost me more than 15 roubles, and Pawel 
twice as much. 

When I came to Ruszkowo it was the middle of October, so 
I had to hurry in order to find a place for the bakery. But it 
was not so easy, for it was too late, and moreover nobody wanted 
to build an oven at his own expense. During this search, which 
I made with father, we called once on Aleksy in Slesin. He re- 
ceived us well enough, but sister-in-law, after observing me for 
awhile, made a very disagreeable joke, saying to Aleksy: "Do 
you know, OleS? This Wiadek really looks like a constable." 
— "Well, I am indeed a constable's son." And thus my conver- 
sation with my sister-in-law ended. 

After more than a week of searching we found a place for a 
bakery in a big church-village, Sadlno, where there were two shops 
already. We agreed with the proprietor, Ochocinski, that we 
would build the oven at our common expense. [Wiadek shows a 
good deal of energy in pushing it to completion.] Three weeks 
before Christmas everything was ready. I agreed with my parents 
on the basis that the shop with various "colonial" [grocery] 
products would be theirs and the bakery mine, and we should keep 
the money for bread separate. My parents, after buying the 
goods, had almost no money left, while I had still 25 roubles. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 345 

Almost one half of our property was already in Sadlno. On 
Christmas eve Stach, with his wife, and Aleksy promised to come 
to Ruszkowo. I never went to Stach, for brother-in-law and 
Pawel wrote me so. We corresponded frequently, and almost in 
every letter there was some mention about the floor. Before 
Christmas I took Roman to help me and went to Sadlno. Roman 
was now almost fourteen, Stefcia two years older and Zosia four 
years older than Stefcia. So Roman was able to help me now a 
little in baking. 

Meanwhile Christmas eve came, and I prepared to go to 
Ruszkowo for the holidays. I left some loaves of bread which 
were not yet sold with my neighbor's wife that she might sell them 
if anybody wanted them, and I sent Roman home first. It was 
noon when everything was ready, and the supper was to be at 
six. But I could not get out of Sadlno so rapidly. First my 
neighbor's wife invited me to divide a wafer with her and treated 
me with brandy. Then my landlord did the same [then the car- 
penter, the blacksmith, the dressmaker. He becomes rather 
tipsy, falls asleep in a tavern and reaches home late.] Aleksy 
was not there; probably he had been afraid of the rain. But 
Stach and his wife were there. I did not talk much with my sister- 
in-law but this did not hinder me from getting reconciled with her 
and with Stach, for now we lived too near each other. Stach 
tried to excuse himself, saying that he wanted to receive us, but 
when he went out we were not there any longer. He regretted 
much that it happened so, but it was too late and could not be 
undone. 

After Christmas I wanted to begin baking at once, but a 
constable began to loaf about waiting for a tip, for Tanalski [com- 
petitor] sent him, saying that I was baking without a licence. So 
I preferred to wait till New Year. On New Year we moved to 
Sadlno, and things went on well enough. The trade was not so 
bad, although there were three shops now. I went to the priest 
and asked him to tell people from the pulpit to patronize my bakery 
and not to take bread from a Jew or a man of some other nation- 
ality, and I paid i rouble for this.' 

' The pulpit was used as an instrument of nationalism, particularly 
against the Germans in Posen and the Jews in Russian Poland (the latter 
in 1912-13). The fact that the priest accepted money shows an exceptionally 
low moral level in him. 



346 THE POLISH PEASANT 

A year passed and, after a calculation, we had our own goods 
and more than loo roubles of cash. For Sadlno it was very good. 
But I must write what profit I had had during this year. I had 
no profit at all. I lived, bought one suit, smoked for 35 copecks 
a week and spent some 20 copecks on beer. This was all I earned 
during this year. Besides this I was not even permitted to call 
myself the proprietor of the bakery, for father took the whole 
management upon himself and had me as journeyman. But he 
did not pay me like a journeyman. I had to beg my parents for 
every grosz or else to steal it and to buy cigarettes elsewhere, 
for I preferred to do it in order to avoid quarreling. In a word, 
I was not pleased with my situation and thought about improving 
it. But how? I must marry. 

And now what benefit did my parents have? Oh, they had 
benefits, and large ones. I will describe them in detail. Roman 
was going to the school and the teacher received 5 roubles a month, 
and many sausages, etc. Stefcia was with Stach in Sompolno, 
but our parents had to buy clothes and books for her, and she 
wanted to dress nicely, for she was sixteen years old and wished 
to be a grown-up girl. Then Zosia, who was with us, needed also 
to dress nicely and fashionably. Father and mother needed 
clothes. But never mind; nobody can walk without clothes. 
But I must add that mother needed various linen for the table, 
the beds, for clothing, because everything was torn while they 
lived with Stach, and everything had to be bought. But I should 
not have cared so much for all this were it not for the robbing of 
the common fund, 1. ^., putting money aside each on his own 
heap. Father was putting aside for shoes, mother for the future, 
Zosia for dresses or some other needs of which there were always 
many, Roman, I don't know what for. And did anybody earn 
even a grosz somewhere else? No; all this was taken from the 
common fund. And whence did the money come? A little, of 
course, for the grocery goods, but mostly from baking, for there 
were two other shops, and bigger ones. But my parents did not 
calculate all this, although I explained the matter clearly thousands 
of times and implored them to live with moderation and not to 
take any money. It happened that I cried, so painful it was to 
see what was going on around me. Sometimes I made a row. 
Then father said: "Take your things and go to the devil, and 
don't try to be master here." I yielded, but repeated it again the 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 347 

next day. For, without offending my father, can an old man of 
seventy-three have talent for business ? Perhaps, but very seldom. 
Father felt guilty more than once, but he would not admit any- 
body to the money. He loved to count money and nobody else 
could do this unless he was not at home. But even if he returned 
late he never forgot this function. It is true that he did not like 
this robbing of the fund either, but he did not behave with enough 
energy, for he had also some roubles put aside. How many times 
I took back this money! Once I took 15 roubles from Roman, 
and often a smaller sum from him or from Zosia. And then they 
complained that I was taking their money! It happened some- 
times that I was going to buy'^our in the town and had no money; 
then I made a search and always a fruitful one. And how much 
money was sent to Stefcia in Sompolno without my knowing it! 
And mother, when she put 25 roubles aside, lent them to some 
farmer, and during a year she had gathered thus 50 roubles. I 
had no right to this money, for she lent it in her own name. But 
I had no right to any money at all and was treated like a small 
boy, for I did not want to rob the common fund. Never more than 
50 copecks could be found on me, and I had no money of my own 
any more, for I had put everything into the business. Once I 
was going with girls to a parish festival two miles away and I asked 
father for some money, and he gave me, as if in a joke, 6 copecks! 
I wrote often to Pawel asking him for advice. But he advised 
me always to let the money for bread be put into another drawer, 
and this could not be done, for I should have to sit in the shop the 
whole day from morning till evening, and I could not do this, for 
I worked at night and must sleep during the day. So there was 
no other way now except to marry, to take everything that was 
mine and to establish a bakery elsewhere.' 

I regretted much having established the business with my 
parents. If I had been a constable for a year more I could have 
established a business of my own, while now my money was com- 
pletely lost. My only salvation would be a wife with a corre- 
sponding dowry. It was precisely carnival and I began to look 
about. But on what conditions did my parents want me to 

' The situation is interesting as showing a stage of evolution at which 
the members of a decaying familial organization still claim the rights but 
do not cecognize the duties of this organization. Cf» Vol. I, Introduction: The 
Peasant Family; Economic Life, 



348 THE POLISH PEASANT 

marry? First they wanted me to marry any girl whatever pro- 
vided she had money, and after receiving the dowry they wanted 
me to give them 300 roubles; then they would go somewhere else 
and establish a shop and would leave me my own bakery. And 
in leaving they were to take all the contents of the shop. It was 
well planned, but I was not so stupid as to agree to everything my 
father wanted. I was rather too good a son, and allowed every- 
thing to be done with me, but in the matter of marriage I opposed 
them positively, I wanted to marry only a girl whom I could 
really love and in whom I should have a good companion of life. 
As to giving money to my parents, I thought that we would talk 
about it when the time came. 

Meanwhile during this year I got acquainted with a dozen 
girls, among whom were rich and poor ones, but none suitable 
to be my wife. I now spent almost all my free time outside of 
home. Among all these girls there were two, one of whom pleased 
me very much. She did not please my parents, but I began to 
love her really. The second was Miss Helena Palaszyfiska, the 
shop-keeper's daughter. This one pleased my parents very much, 
and I did not avoid her, although I did not love her at all. She 
was older, a good housekeeper, and she knew how to manage the 
business. She loved me strongly. I must add that Mr. P. took 
bakery products from me, and we lived in a rather good under- 
standing. 

Now I will try to describe my relation with the first girl. Miss 
Stasia, for this was the name of the girl whom I loved for the 
first time, and her family name was Lesiewicz. Her father was 
a blacksmith and lived at the end of the village. He had his own 
house and forge, three morgs of land, a very nice orchard, which 
he rented for 100 roubles or more, and some 100 roubles in cash. 
In a word, they were people of a middle fortune. Mrs. L. was 
a merry woman and knew how to show off a little, but sometimes 
she boasted too much and had a rather long tongue. But gen- 
erally speaking she was a good woman and saw the whole world 
in her Stasia. I sometimes saw Miss Stasia when she passed by 
my bakery going to the church, and wanted to get acquainted 
with her. I knew her parents already, but had not been in their 
house up to the present. And when Miss Stasia began to please 
me more and more I went one evening to visit their home, where 
I was very well received. But I could not tear my eyes away from 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 349 

Miss Stasia, for in her home dress she looked more like an angel 
than a girl — a tress of blonde hair falling down, a round face, 
very large blue eyes, a white and delicate complexion, cheeks 
pink as apples, a small and very delicate hand, not hardened with 
work. She still wore short dresses and her parents treated her 
like a child and petted her continually. Therefore Miss Stasia 
was a very spoiled daughter, and impossibly modest. She had 
just finished sixteen years and was somewhat too little developed 
for her age, for she had been for a very short time in school and 
did not like to read any books. So I occupied myself with her 
education. I related various instructive stories, taught her, ex- 
plained everything, and induced her to read books. I read myself 
aloud to her, and when she did not understand anything I explained 
it to her. Her parents were very glad that their dear little daugh- 
ter was getting more educated, for they liked books enormously, 
but none of them knew how to read fluently. Besides Stasia 
they had still two children; a daughter Lodzia, about thirteen, 
and a boy of five. Lodzia was still going to school, but she was 
more intelligent than Stasia. 

I and Miss Stasia felt during these lessons that we sympathized 
more and more with each other. Mr. and Mrs. L. liked me much 
and I spent some hours with them every day. For the first time 
in my life I felt that I began to love Stasia the 'Muckling," and 
I was glad of it, but it could not yet be called a true love. Soon 
my parents got better acquainted with them, invited them to 
supper and then again were invited by them, and we lived in 
friendly relations. Zosia became even a great friend of Miss S. 
and brought me from her various secrets which I wanted to know. 
And thus time passed pleasantly at the side of Miss S. I had the 
intention of asking for her hand when she finished her eighteenth 
year. Even now the whole parish called us engaged and it came 
to our ears. Stasia was very confused, but said nothing, nor her 
parents either. I saw that they would be glad to give me their 
daughter; but not yet, for she was still a child. I should not have 
dared to marry her myself, for I pitied her. So I waited and 
watched, lest anybody else should take her from me. On Sunday 
there were always many boys in their house, but mostly sons of 
poor farmers, for whom Mr. L. did work repairing their carts, 
plows, etc., and thus on Sunday the boys all came to the black- 
smith to smoke a cigarette with him and to listen to some story. 



3 so THE POLISH PEASANT 

So when so many boys were there, I went and called Miss S. to a 
walk. Those boys were very angry with me, but they could do 
nothing, for I treated every one of them very politely. 

Meanwhile I did not forget Miss Helena either. She was 
also a friend of Miss Stasia, but used all means to marry me. I 
went there, but not as often as to Miss Stasia, and only to spend 
time. Thence various gossip and anger arose. Miss Helena 
used various means to make me call on them as often as possible, 
and if I did not go she came to us herself, as if calling on sister 
Zosia. She knew so well how to please my parents that they 
wanted me absolutely to marry her. She was very good toward 
me, but she was an awful ^'teacher" and liked to talk only about 
impossible things, so her company bored me and I preferred to 
spend the time with Miss Stasia. Helena's mother teased me 
about this, but I did not care for it at all. It happened sometimes 
that I said something against Miss Stasia, and Miss Helena imme- 

t^.' diately took the opportunity to tell her this and to cause some 

anger between us, and sometimes she succeeded; then I walked 
with Helena and called more often on her. In general it would 

} seem at the first sight that I was in better relations with Miss 

\ Helena than with Stasia. They could be called rivals, only Stasia 

\ was still a naive child and Miss Helena a grown-up girl, superior 

^ to the first in everything. And Miss Stasia repeated everything 

to me. Once Miss Helena told Stasia that I had called her a 

* ^ whelp [silly child; rather offensive] and said that I would marry 

her. only if Mr. L. gave me a full i,ooo roubles of dowry, Mr. 

^i)ld Mrs. L. got very angry and began to reproach me with this 

wKen I came to them. From word to word we quarreled a little, 

; for they loved their daughter deeply and did not want anybody 

to offend her.' Moreover my mother sometimes said something 

offensive about Stasia to other women. Once when I came to 

Stasia she began to reproach me because my mother did not like 

her and said that she had better play in the sand and bake mud 

cakes than to flirt with me. It is true that my mother always 

liked to say something against Stasia, but if the latter had been 

a little wiser and more experienced she would have guessed what 

my mother and Miss Helena were about. But Stasia cried instead. 

Sometimes she said in anger: "Why does he come here if he slan- 

' His desire for response gets him into difficulties by leading him to say 
everything that will please anybody at a given moment. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 351 

ders me to people?" I had much grief from all this, and asked 
mother not to tell strangers anything. But mother said: "I 
will talk in spite of you, to keep you away from there. If Mrs. 
Lesiewicz took a broom and drove you away I should be glad, 
for you ought not to try to seduce such a whelp." And in general 
mother spoiled my plans and this pained me much, but I could 
find no way out of it. 

In the winter Miss Stasia went to Kleczewo to learn cutting, 
for she knew how to sew already, and she spent three months 
there. I longed for her and wrote frequent letters, full of love. 
Alas! I received answers to none, for Stasia was still ashamed to 
write letters to a boy, and moreover she was ashamed of her hand- 
writing, which was very ugly. But she cared much for my letters. 

During the time when Miss Stasia was away I went oftener 
to Miss Helena, and people were certain that I would marry her. 
I must mention that Miss Helena more than once sent match- 
makers to persuade me to marry her. They said that Miss H. 
would receive 500 roubles of dowry and the whole tvypratoa [out- 
fit]. Moreover her god-mother, who was also her grandmother, 
intended to add 200 roubles more. To tell the truth, it was a 
nice dowry for Miss H., but we shall see how much truth there was 
in it. Well, before Christmas in the first year of my stay in 
Sadlno I went one evening to Miss Helena. Her parents were not 
at home, so we were alone. Miss Helena treated me with good 
brandy, drank a glass herself, and after the zakqski we began to 
talk about various matters. It came to this, that Miss H. began 
to relate about her suitors, and said that she received a letter 
from one suitor in the army, who was to return in a year. Then, 
quite unintentionally and more as a joke than in earnest, I said 
to her: "Miss Helena, what would you say if I asked you for 
your hand? Would you become my wife?" — **Yes, I agree, 
for I thought about it long ago." And she stretched her hands 
out to me. Only now I understood what I hacTdone, but I was 
not sure whether it was quite serious. I caught her hands and 
kissed one of them and later did the same with her lips. We 
kissed each other as much as we wished and before her parents 
came back we were really engaged. But I did not wait for her 
parents to come back, and went to work. I told my parents that 
I had proposed to Miss H.; they were very glad, but I was not 
yet convinced whether I had done it seriously or in jest. When 



352 THE POLISH PEASANT 

I went the next day to Miss H. she said at the first opportunity 
that she had told her parents what happened yesterday. I 
noticed that I was received in a diflFerent way, for when they 
treated me with supper the table was covered with a clean white 
table-cloth, and they were very talkative, but we did not mention 
the marriage at all. Thus a few days passed when suddenly their 
cousin Ludwika (who later became my wife) came from Wilczyn. 
She was a rather pretty girl, twice as much so as Miss Helena, 
but I did not pay any attention to her then, for I was occupied 
with Miss Helena. One evening I went to them and found every- 
body sitting in the room, but I don't know how it happened that 
when I looked around awhile later there was nobody except me 
and Miss Helena's parents. Then the idea flashed in my mind 
that it was arranged intentionally in order to give me the oppor- 
tunity to ask her parents for their daughter's hand. I wanted 
to profit of this, arose from my chair, kissed Mrs. P.'s hand, shook 
hands with Mr. P., and began to explain my request. My legs 
shook as if upon springs, sweat broke out upon my brow. Mrs. 
P. noticed it and told me to sit down and not to be so moved. I 
was glad of this permission, for really I was ashamed to stand any 
more, my legs trembled so.' Unintentionally I looked toward the 
door which led to the other room and saw Miss Helena looking 
and listening through this half-closed door. But I went on: 
"You certainly know already that your daughter promised me her 
hand and agreed to become my wife. There remains for me only 
to ask you whether you will permit us to marry and won't oppose 
this." Then Mrs. P. called Helena and asked her whether she 
wanted to be my wife. "Yes, I will,^' answered Miss H. without 
hesitation. "If you will, my child, we have nothing against it 
and we agree." — "Yes, we agree," added Mr. P., and sent a sign 
of cross in our direction, i, e., blessing us. We thanked the 
parents, kissed each other in their presence, and then Miss Helena 
went out and we again remained alone. Mr. P. took brandy 
from the cupboard and we drank a glass each, continuing our 
conversation. Mr. P. began: "Mr. Wiszniewski, you think 
perhaps that we shall give much money to our daughter. But 
we have not much ourselves." I interrupted: "Mr. Palaszynski, 

* He is sure of being accepted and he does not care (except for social 
opinion) whether he is accepted or not. So his emotion is due to the social 
importance traditionally associated with the act of proposal. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 353 

don't let us talk about it now; leave it for later." But he said: 
"No, I will tell you at once what I can give to my daughter. I 
shall give her 200 roubles in cash, 100 roubles for furniture, an 
outfit according to my means, and I shall help you in everything 
as well as I can." — "But, Mr. P., I don't ask you at all. You 
are Miss Helena's father and I think that you won't wrong her." 
— "And when do you intend to have the wedding.?" — "I tell 
you frankly that I am ready at any moment, but I leave it to 
your decision." — "Then let us have the wedding in May. Do 
you agree, Mr. W..?" — "All right, I have nothing against it; 
let it be in May." I talked for awhile and returned home to share 
the news with my family. They were very gay, but I was very 
sad, for Miss H.'s dowry was too small, and what could I do with 
it? Father had decided finally to accept 200 roubles, and to 
leave me whatever was in the shop, and in my opinion it was not 
worth 50 roubles. I was puzzled what to do with the pledge that 
I held in my hand. If Miss Helena received as much as people 
said, that is, 500 roubles, and her grandmother added two hundred 
more, it would be a different matter. But now 200 roubles! 
What could I do with them? Give them to my parents and re- 
main without a grosz? No, this could not be. Why, I was 
marrying only for business, and what a business it was! From 
the rain under the gutter. I prayed warmly to God that all this 
might be upset, for I would not and could not break without a 
serious reason. I had an honor which was also worth something.' 
The next day I approached my parents in order to talk the 
matter over as was suitable. I said that I would positively not 
give themk.as much as they wanted. "For what shall I give you 
200 roubles?"* — "You will give them because with us you became 
a man. . Were it not for us you would still be tramping about the 
world, and now you are in good conditions." — "Why, but I 
belong to the company, and one half of everything is mine. Give 
me my 200 roubles back; I will go and establish a bakery else- 
where." — "I don't hinder you; take your money and go. More- 
over you have spent it on eating and smoking long ago." — "Well, 
and is my work nothing? I have worked for a year and earned 

' We see here the practical significance of the ritual of official proposal i 
respect for the socially sanctioned form makes retreat impossible, and thus 
fixes definitely the line of behavior. The ritual was absent in the case of 
Helena, in Ozorkow, and the break was easy. 



354 THE POLISH PEASANT 

enough for my board, cigarettes and clothes." But although I 
gave proof of my rights, it helped not at all.' Finally I agreed 
to give 200 roubles but on the condition that father would take 
nothing except those 200 roubles and the goods which were in the 
shop. If father had agreed to it I should have had more than 
200 roubles, for mother had 150 lent at interest, in the business 
there were 60 roubles besides the goods, 50 roubles more were 
due for goods sold on credit, there were two pigs in the sty worth 
40 roubles. So I should not have been poor even if I gave the 
whole dowry to my parents. But they would not agree to it. 
So what could I do, being in such a situation? Take those 60 
roubles from the business and go tramping again? This did not 
please me at all and I began to cry much because of the wrong 
which they wanted to do me. I, who had not eaten and slept 
enough during my constable service, who bore all the insults and 
bad names in order to earn a few roubles for my own business, I 
was to be robbed pitilessly of everything I had earned and driven 
away into the world. Why? and I was the poorest of all my family 
and they ought to help me, my parents as well as relatives, for I 
had no position at all except this bakery about which I had dreamed 
for a long time. But in spite of this I did not think about break- 
ing my engagement with Miss Helena, for my honor did not allow 
me to do it. My mother made some concessions. She wanted 
100 roubles in cash and 100 in notes; I could take for my wedding 
money from the business, and the pigs were to be killed and the 
money also turned to the wedding expenses. This was at least 
possible, though difficult to carry out. I resolved to talk about 
all this with Mr. Palaszyfiski and to ask for his advice, for I was 
sure that he would not give me those 200 roubles in order that I 
should give them to my parents, for he intended to give them that 
his children might use them for their own benefit. Neither I 
nor any one in his place woirid have done otherw'se. I did not 
cease to call on Miss Helena, and every day we went farther in 
our romance. The whole parish knew it already; the very spar- 

' Contrast of the old and new attitudes toward work. With the peasant, 
his own work on his own property does not count; it is in a sense due to the 
property, and there is no idea of quantitative equivalence of economic values 
that are qualitatively different; the work done at home is not put on the same 
level as hired work and not evaluated in money. {Cf* Vol. I, Introduction: 
Economic Life,) 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 355 

rows upon the roof twittered about it. Meanwhile Mr. and Mrs. 
P. intended to invite my parents on Christmas eve to have the 
engagement repeated in their presence. Miss Helena had to go 
to Sompolno to buy the necessary things and asked me to go with 
her. Mr. P. had a horse of his own, so he drove us. Miss H. 
went shopping and I called on Stach, who ktlew about my be- 
trothal, and he had me invite them to dinner. Mr. P. excused 
himself, saying that he was not dressed well enough, but Miss 
Helena came, and Stach and his wife received her reproachlessly. 
After dinner we went out together, but I left Miss Helena in the 
town and returned to Stach. But he " sat on me like a blind horse" 
[gave a scolding] and told me not to marry Miss H., saying that 
if I did he would never kiss her hand. "What do I care? If 
you won't kiss my wife I won't kiss yours." But Stach began to 
blame Miss Helena in general. In my mind I agreed with him, 
but aloud I said: "It is not your business what wife I take. I 
have not selected yours." And we separated almost in anger, 
but a small one, for I regretted myself having gone so far. But 
there was no way to retreat. 

Meanwhile Christmas approached. My parents were to come 
after supper on Christmas eve to this betrothal. I bought pretty 
gold earrings with corals for Miss Helena, which would mean 
that they were a betrothal gift. After supper, which I ate with 
my whole family, I went to some of my customers in order to 
divide the wafer with them. Of course it did not end with the 
wafer alone, but everywhere I drank some glasses of brandy, 
although I knew what awaited me. When I came to my future 
father-in-law's house I found all the guests there. Tea and sweet- 
meats were provided, and there was enough of everything. 

I had already some glasses in my head, and wanted to get rid 
of this betrothal as soon as possible. At the first opportunity I 
took Miss Helena by the hand, arose and began: "Here, in the 
presence of Miss Helena's parents and my own, I announce that 
Miss Helena has been my betrothed for some weeks, and I ask 
both my own and Miss Helena's parents to bless us and to allow 
us to marry, if they have nothing against it." Then I kissed the 
hands of my parents and of hers, asking them for permission. 
Miss Helena did the same, and we stood in a humble attitude 
waiting for what our parents would say. My mother spoke first, 
saying: "My son, I and your father have nothihg against your 



3S6 THE POLSIH PEASANT 

marriage, and if you like it we like it also and we agree. We are 
even very glad and satisfied." Mrs. P. said the same. I and 
Miss Helena thanked our parents and the betrothal was finished, 
of which I was very glad. We drank a glass of brandy each, and 
I and Miss i . went to another room u here our younger brothers 
and sisters were gathered. I had a few words more to say and 
returned to the first room. In entering I heard my father bar- 
gaining with Mr. P. The latter offered 200 roubles and my 
father stroked him familiarly on the shoulder and asked him to 
add 100 more. I said: ''Leave off this bargaining, father, and 
talk about something merrier, for there is nothing for sale. Those 
200 roubles will be just enough to pay my parents off." Saying 
this, I poured full glasses and gave them to everybody. I spent 
the rest of the evening kissing Miss Helena. We stayed in Mr. 
P.'s house till midnight. Then my mother invited them to come 
to us on St. Szczepan's day, December 26th, saying: "Please 
come to us, for there will be a still better brandy than yours." 

Next morning we were to go to Wilczyn — I, Miss Helena, 
her cousin Ludwika, Mr. P. and one of his sons, Janek, sixteen 
years old. Mr. P. borrowed another horse and a nice bryczka. 
I was to be introduced to Miss Helena's grandmother. I rose 
early, put on my best suit and went to Miss Helena. They were 
waiting for me already with breakfast and brandy. I drank a 
small glass of brandy, we took a basket of various provisions and 
a big bottle of brandy with us and started to Wilczyn. But 
before the town Miss Helena told me to turn my mustache up 
in order to make a nice appearance before the girls of Wilczyn. 

The grandmother lay sick in her bed. I was displeased at 
once, for everything was without any order. Ludwika's mother, 
who lived in the same house, came and made tea for us; Miss 
Helena drew the provisions out of the basket and we had a very 
fine second breakfast. After it I went to Ludwika's mother and 
spent the time there till noon, for it pleased me there much better 
than with Helena's grandmother. Ludwika's mother was a 
brickmaker's widow. She occupied only one room, but very 
cleanly kept. After me came Miss Helena with her eldest brother 
Stanislaw, who was now eighteen years old and worked with his 
grandfather as a butcher's apprentice. We sent for brandy, 
Ludwika's mother fried some gruel-sausage and we ate. We went 
to the grandmother for dinner. The dinner was composed only 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 357 

of one dish, bigos [stew], and not very good. The grandmother 
rose for dinner and dressed herself a little, but I was not pleased 
at all and was hungry as a wolf. I thought already about going 
somewhere to a tavern to eat, and said so to cousin Ludwika, but 
she withheld me saying: "Don't go, for if Helena's grandmother 
learns it she will be very angry." I listened and did not go. After 
two o'clock everybody went somewhere and I remained alone with 
the grandmother, who began to inquire about my situation and that 
of my family, how my baking was going on, how many Christmas 
cakes I had baked, etc. Finally I said: "Why, you will also prove 
a true grandmother and will help us with a few roubles in our new 
household; moreover, you are Miss Helena's god-mother." — 
"Oh, no, we cannot give anything, for our own condition is very 
hard; old age draws near and there is nobody to work for us." 
After this we talked a few minutes, some more persons came and 
we had to interrupt our conversation. But I felt that I did not 
please the grandmother at all.' For although she was sixty she 
had many claims, considered herself still young and liked to be 
considered such and to have her hand often licked. For my part 
I did not like it at all and did not know how to play politics. In 
a wotd, I hated playing the monkey. I must add that the grand- 
mother was of less than middle height and weighed 250 pounds, so 
the reader can imagine how she looked. And if we add her pride, 
we can easily think of that animal which wanted to be an ox but 
could not, for it burst open. But Mr. P. was blindly obedient, 
and whatever she said must happen. He kissed his mother-in- 
law's fat hand some twenty-five times.* 

After a rather bad supper we started back to Sadino, leaving 

' He had the right to talk about money, since she had started the business 
conversation. 

« 

' The grandmother, as the oldest and probably the wealthiest of the 
family, had developed a special attitude of despotism which we find in other 
solitary old women. The tendency to control the environment, usually 
suppressed by marriage, shows itself strongly when the woman is left a widow, 
and if not willingly satisfied by the environment may take various, even 
crooked ways, to attain its aim. (See the Kozbwski series, Vol. II.) This 
seems to result from the necessity of finding a secure basis of existence — a 
more difficult problem for the woman than the man. For the latter, inde- 
pendence of the environment may constitute a mere negative limitation 
of the claims of the environment upon him, while for the former it must assume 
the form of a predominance over the environment. 



3S8 THE POLISH PEASANT 

cousin Ludwika with her mother. I and Miss Helena sat on the 
back seat, Mr. P. with his son on the front one. Miss Helena 
covered herself and me with a big shawl, so that our faces were 
quite close and we kissed each other continually. Although, 
to tell the truth, I felt not much pleasure in these kisses, I could 
not avoid them, for Helena's lips were continually in search of 
mine. But in spite of these kisses I felt a cloud in the air from 
which a very cold wind blew and a storm was imminent, for Mr. 
P., although he was usually talkative, was silent now. Finally 
I said: "Mr. P., what does it mean that you don't say anything 
to us? Are you angry about something.? For a strong cold comes 
from you." — "Well, it was not necessary at all to tell grand- 
mother everything and to show yourself impolite toward her. 
What is worse, you talked about money. This was quite unsuit- 
able. You have not pleased grandmother at all, for you did not 
ask her for her god-daughter." — "Mr. Palaszynski," I answered, 
"have I to ask everybody, the whole family, for Miss Helena? 
I have asked Miss Helena herself, then you and your wife, then 
we had a formal betrothal in the presence of witnesses. I think^ 
that it is enough. It would be really too much to ask everybody 
in particular. Moreover it is not customary [fashionable] and 
in my opinion it is quite sufficient if the betrothed and her parents 
agree." — " But you would have lost nothing in asking grand- 
mother also." ' 

The following day I dropped into Mr. P.'s house and noticed 
at once an awful cold, and Helena was crying. I asked her why 
she was crying but she promised to tell me later, and did not go 
to church. After the mass I returned home and told my parents 
that everything could be considered spoiled. In my soul I was 
very glad that it happened so, for I was not satisfied with my 
betrothal. I did not like Helena much, for she was too romantic 
and fondling, moreover the familial and financial situation did not 
permit me to marry, for it proved definitely that Helena would 
have only those 200 roubles which Mr. P. promised. 

' The passage shows the disharmony introduced into social relations by 
the opposition of the old and the new attitudes. Palaszyfiski takes the 
traditional standpoint of the large family — that the grandmother was sup- 
posed to endow Helena and consequently had the right to control Helena's 
choice. Wiadek takes the attitude of the patriarchal family, imitated by the 
lower-middle class from the upper classes. Therefore he introduces the 
term ''customary" in the sense of ''fashionable." 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 359 

On this day Mr. and Mrs. P. were to come to supper to us. 
I invited Mr. and Mrs. Lesiewicz also. Mother tried as well as 
she could to make everything still better than it was at the Ps. 
In the evening the Lesiewiczs came (Stasia had not yet returned). 
They remained for a long time, and the Ps. were not to be seen. 
So I took my hat and went for them, saying nothing to anybody. 
But they did not think of coming and were not ready at all. I 
got very angry, but kept the anger in myself and said: "We have 
been waiting for you for an hour, for you promised to come, but 
I see that you are not getting ready and I don't know why." 
Then Mrs. P. said: "Mr. W., I will tell you openly that we have 
no reason to go to you, for your mother said that my brandy was 
not good and told me to come to her for better, so thjs made me 
very angry." — "Don't you understand joking?" I answered. 
"On the contrary my mother praised everything." — "I don't 
need anybody to blame or praise me." — " So you won't come to 
us?" — "No." — "All right," I answered, "this means that 
everything is over between us." And without waiting for- the 
'answer I opened the door to the second room where Miss Helena 
was and I noticed that she was leaning against the table and 
crying. I drew the ring from my finger threw it with wrath upon 
the table saying, "Take it, please," and went out. I heard Miss 
Helena calling: "Mr. Wladyslaw! Mr. Wladyslaw!" but I was 
already outside. Thus finished my betrothal and it is difficult to 
tell who despised the other [broke the engagement]. 

When I came home mother was still waiting for the Ps. But 
I said in the presence of the Lesiewiczs: "Don't wait, mother, for 
they won't come, and everything is over. I broke ofiF positively 
with Miss Helena." — "Why then?" asked mother. — "Because 
you have offended Mrs. P. But it is not worth talking about. 
It is better that it happened so." — "But I will go to her tomorrow 
and ask her how I have offended her." — "Do as you please." 
Saying this I sat down at the table and asked mother to serve the 
supper, while I poured brandy into the glasses and asked every- 
body to drink on account of what had happened. But suddenly 
Mrs. Lesiewicz felt sick, and we brought her to consciousness 
with difficulty. I have never learned what was the reason of 
this swooning — whether the joy that my engagement was spoiled 
or the pain that she would not be at the wedding.' 

' It is conceivable that a woman of this class, whose main sphere of 



y 



360 THE POLISH PEASANT 

The next day mother went to Mrs. P. and they had a rather 
sharp talk. My mother said that Mrs. P. did not understand 
joking, and Mrs. P. said that she did not need to buy a son-in- 
law, and thus the matter ended. A week later the whole parish 
was talking about it, but everybody difiFerently. Some said that 
I was rejected because I got awfully drunk in Wilczyn, so that 
they had to put me upon the bryczka like a ram, and I vomited 
upon the bryczka. Such was the gossip that the Palaszynskis 
started, for as I learned later, Mrs. P. told it herself in order to 
save her daughter's dignity. Others said that the baker rejected 
Miss Helena because her dowry was too small. It was my mother, 
as I heard, who told this. In a word, the parish had enough to 
talk about. 

I now ceased to call on the Palaszynskis. If I met Mr. P., 
his wife or Helena on the street I saluted them always and they 
did the same. They continued also to take bakery goods from 
me. But I gave myself completely up to Miss Stasia who re- 
turned a few weeks later, and I noticed that she reciprocated my 
feelings more and more every day. I did not mention marriage 
at all, but I prepared Miss Stasia secretly for this idea. Miss 
Helena was very jealous, for she met Stasia often enough and she 
slandered me in various ways. Stasia believed much that she 
said and thus Helena interfered with my plans and undermined 
Stasia's confidence in me. Very often I had to excuse myself 
for things which I had never seen or heard. If any one asked me 
when the wedding would be I usually said that Mr. and Mrs. 
Lesiewicz would not give me their daughter for they looked higher. 
It happened even that I expressed myself, for instance, so: "Let 
her first learn to cook, and only then look for a husband." For, 
in general, I disclosed to nobody that I was almost in love with 
Stasia. But whatever I said to people they added five times as 
much and repeated it to Stasia and her mother. Mrs. Lesiewicz 
often got very angry and I heard that she said, for example: 
"What is he, the baker, to dare to slander my daughter, saying 
that she ought to learn to cook? Let him ask first whether I 
will give him my daughter." And in general she said various 
things about me which people brought to me. I knew very well 
whence all this came, but I could not help it. This was the usual 

intereat8 is the doings of the neighbors, should have been upset by this import 
tant piece of news. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 361 

woman's gossip about which every reader knows enough, and I 
don't need to describe it. But it harmed me much, for if I had 
had to do with an older and more experienced girl she would not 
have paid any attention to it, but Stasia believed everything, 
and for this reason we quarreled very often. And Miss Helena 
did not lose her time. She tried by all means to make me call 
on her again, but I promised myself that I would never ask her 
parents for her hand again. Helena was in friendly relations with 
my sister 2^sia and they called on each other; Helena often pro- 
posed to me to walk with her, but I would not and preferred to 
spend my time with Stasia. And when Helena succeeded in 
stirring anger between us, I walked alone and in such cases usually 
went to the teacher and there spent my time in conversation, or 
we both went somewhere to play preference. 



Thus time passed until Easter. Pawel promised to come for 
the holidays, for he had not been in Sadlno yet, while Stach and 
Aleksy were frequent guests. Pawel wrote that he intended to 
be also in Aleksy's house in Slesin, for he wanted to ask him for a 
loan of a few hundred roubles. He intended to establish a shop 
of his own and wrote that he had already 1,200 roubles put aside. 
I was very glad of Pawel's visit. 

Here I must mention something about Miss Helena G. from 
Ozorkowo. We wrote to each other from time to time, but Miss 
H. was very angry with me and in every letter teased me about 
having got drunk while leaving Ozorkowo. She wrote that she 
saw me very downcast when I was leaving the town, not because 
of the friends I left, but because of brandy. Those letters were 
of a very indifferent content; she mentioned my duty toward 
my family, asked whether I performed it well. In a word, those 
letters were as if not from a girl, but from a good friend.^ 

' We can understand the persistence of this relation in spite of WUdek's 
behavior only on the ground that the untrained mind finds great difficulty 
in formulating in definite terms a new and undetermined situation. To the 
mind of this type the world, as undefined by tradition, appears as a vague 
complexity of undetermined situations and unclear happenings. In this case 
nothing had been said of a change in the relation, but Wladek finally defines 
it as friendship, because the letters of the girl resembled that type of letters. 



362 THE POLISH PEASANT 

[For Easter Pawel and Stach and his wife come, and are recon- 
ciled. The brothers with their mother and Lucus visit Aleksy. 
Aleksy is the chief of the firemen's ball. He makes a speech and 
the firemen call: " Fivat the chief! Fivat the chiefs mother! 
Fivat [sic!] the chiefs brothers."] Soon the dance began and we 
were going to dance, but Aleksy did not allow it, telling us to wait 
till "bigger fishes" came. Meanwhile we were drinking at other 
people's expense, and there were enough people to treat us, for 
there were some priests and some rich merchants from Prussia. 
Only when the lights were kindled Aleksy called us to dance. He 
went ahead with mother, Stach with his wife, Lycus with Stach's 
wife, Pawel and I took strange ladies. When we danced every- 
body stepped aside to look at five brothers dancing, for really it 
must have looked nice. We danced two pieces, then Aleksy 
led mother to a seat and asked everybody to dance, and all those 
went who wished.' 

As the reader sees, I don't mention sister Marya. It is because 
she was no longer among us, but had been already about a year 
in America. She had had no opportunity to marry suitably, 
old spinsterhood awaited her, so she went across the ocean in 
search of a husband. From time to time she wrote letters home, 
complaining awfully about America, and more than once mother 
wept over her letters. But now she wrote a little merrier letters, 
for a drug-store employee had fallen in love with her and she had 
some variety in her life. So I wrote her a letter, saying: "Reflect 
well before you marry him, and take your own advice. You are 
not a very young girl any more, consult your own reason and do 
as you think best. Your betrothed pleases us well enough from 
his photograph. If you marry, invite us to your wedding, perhaps 
some of us will come." * 

I was considered quite differently by my family, but I did not 
forget either what had been formerly and what was now. Now 

' This visit and dance put for the first time before Wladek's eyes in a 
clear form the social advance achieved by his family, including himself. The 
situation is thus defined for him, and from this moment envy to some extent 
gives place to familial pride. 

* He appreciates his recently acquired importance as a recognized member 
of the group and profits from the opportunity which, according to tradition, 
the engagement of his sister gives him to assume at least once an attitude of 
superiority. 



( 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 363 

some of my brothers behaved very diplomatically toward me, 
for while I was working for our parents they were quiet; our 
parents required nothing from them, and they did not ask me 
whether I had any benefit from this work or any views for the 
future. They did not care, because this was good for them. I 
could not improve my condition at once, so I pretended to believe 
whatever they said. They wanted our parents to exploit me as 
much as possible, for the more our parents had the less my brothers 
would have to help them.' [Describes a fire which bums fourteen 
houses in the village, threatens the bakery and the house of Miss 
Helena. The priests want to keep the fire-engine near the church, 
though it is not in great danger, but the firemen take orders from 
Wladek and PaweL] Without boasting, I helped them to carry 
out much furniture, and I was much helped by the teacher, who 
tried to be as active as he could. But as to the farmers and work- 
men, it is not worth mentioning; they begin to work sincerely 
only when they see the whip above them. Alas! the lack of en- 
lightenment is the cause of it, and the lack of understanding how 
to accomplish one's duties from one's own will and desire.* 

The next evening Miss Helena came to us and in the name of 
her parents thanked us for the help. . . . She invited me and 
Pawel to come to them, but we refused positively and went for 
a short time to the Lesiewiczs. When we left, Pawel expressed 
himself very nicely about Stasia, but said that she was not yet 
a ripe fruit to pluck — she might still remain a girl for some five 
years. , 

And again almost a year passed. I went almost every day to 
Miss Stasia and became more and more attached to her. I began 
also to call on Miss Helena again, but very seldom. She came, 
on the contrary, very frequently to us and tried by all means to 
draw me away from Stasia, but she could not succeed, although 
she blackened me impossibly. 

' His analysis of the situation is sufficiently exact. He has attained a 
standing in the family because he performs an important familial function. 

' Wiadek feels at this time a perfectly regular member of his society — 
morally, intellectually and economically on the level of his actual milieu. 
He has therefore a feeling of self-righteousness which in such proportions 
is new to him. He has just opposed the priests at the fire because he feels 
himself a representative of the interests of the community and backed by the 
latter, and he now indulges in moral preaching for the benefit of the reader, 
whereas up to this time he has recorded only his preaching to his environment. 



364 THE POLISH PEASANT 

About this time there came from Lodz a tailor, son of the 
organist, with whom I got rapidly acquainted. Kazimierz was 
twenty years old, very handsome, and knew how to play the 
monkey with girls. The day after our acquaintance he made me 
a confession of his life; I learned that he was already a father and 
his betrothed wanted him to marry her, but he had no money and 
came to his father for advice. He confessed that if he found some 
girl here he would marry her and go to America on her dowry. 
I took him to Miss Stasia; he went twice with me, and the third 
time alone, and began to court Stasia rapidly. I was rather 
angry with him for such a friendly reward, but waited for the 
result of it and occupied myself with spying. Soon I noticed that 
they had meetings in the darkest comers. So I considered it 
my duty to warn Stasia, for I knew what Kazimierz was worth. 
The next day I told her to meet Kazimierz rather at home than 
in corners, for it was not suitable for a well-bred girl. There were 
no witnesses of this conversation, but Stasia told it to her suitor 
and he told me, requesting me not to hinder him. He did not 
know that I had also the intention of reaching Stasia, but in another 
manner than he. But I ceased to interfere, without ceasing to 
spy. Alas! besides me somebody else noticed them and sent the 
gossip about the village that Miss Stasia would soon bring a gift 
to her parents in her apron. The gossip came to the ears of Mrs. 
Lesiewicz,who put all the fault upon me, saying that I was slander- 
ing her daughter; "For my daughter does not loaf about at night, 
nor does she stand behind the barn." But by some chance Mrs. 
L. stayed long with us one evening and asked me to accompany 
her home. I did it, and we were just passing near their barn 
when we noticed Stasia and Kazimierz. I led Mrs. L. near them 
and returned home. I don't know how it went with them, only 
when I met Kazimierz the next day he was awfully angry and 
cursed me, and asked me why I had led Mrs. L. to them. "Why? 
In order that she might give you her blessing." — "Yes, you 
laugh, and I should have persuaded Stasia presently." — "This 
is not nice of you, to persuade inexperienced girls and take their 
good name away. I have been calling for almost two years on 
her, and nobody ever noticed us in corners. I always go only to 
their house." — "Why should I care for Miss Stasia, since she 
does not care for herself.^ I am here today, tomorrow elsewhere. 
I have today Miss Stasia, tomorrow Miss Mania." — "You are 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 365 

unwise," I answered, and left him. I would not tell him that I 
was in love with Stasia, and pretended that I was indifiFerent 
toward her. Since then I did not speak again with Kazimierz, 
and for some time called on Stasia more rarely. Kazimierz left 
soon, without obtaining anything except tarnishing a little Stasia's 
reputation.' 

I began now to think positively about Stasia, for she had 
finished eighteen years. I was twenty-seven and a little too old 
for her, but not so much that she would be too young for me. I 
must say that I treated her always very seriously and in my 
presence she was very timid, for I made remarks about everything 
and this constrained her. For I wanted to see her more intelli- 
gent and wiser with every step. And it happened that when I 
came in and found her with other boys, she was different, and from 
the moment when I entered she became different again.' More 
than once I begged Stasia to tell me positively her feelings and 
often wrote notes to her, but all was fruitless; she never heeded 
my request. 

Once when we were alone I said to her: "Miss Stasia, you have 
now finished eighteen years and you understand clearly that I 
am not coming here for nothing. You know from my letters how 
deeply I love you, and tell me whether I have to wait a few years 
still, or you don't love me at all and will never become my wife. 

' WUdek'8 attitude in this connection is not merely one of jealousy; 
he behaves as a righteous member of a community, condemning a behavior 
which he practiced while a wandering journeyman without a steady position 
in any community. During his stay in Sadlno he has tried to conform with 
all the social norms, he has had no sexual relations, and his behavior toward 
Stasia has been perfectly proper. His actual as against his past state of mind 
represents a coqtrast that on a higher level of culture is manifested by the 
opposition between the Philistine, complying with all the rules of social opinion 
and recognizing only the legal sexual relation, and the Bohemian, in whom 
the rejection of other rules of behavior is accompanied by a wide liberty in 
sexual matters. And this evolution can be taken as typical not only for 
Wladek's class but for most men of the middle and higher middle classes — 
instance, the European student's life and the more or less sincere condemnation 
of it by the mature man, the Philistinization of artists along with their growing 
social success, and in general the substitution of the idea of career for that of 
pleasure. 

' He behaves as if he were twice as old as he really is. This premature 
assumption of the old-man attitude toward a girl who wants, not mentorship, 
but love-making, is due to his growing Philistinism and his preaching tendency. 



inion \/ 
rhom ,^^ 



366 THE POLISH PEASANT 

So tell me, Miss Stasia, yes or no. I am prepared for everything, 
and if you don't feel able to speak, ploase write on a bit of paper a 
few words: 'Wait so or so many years,' or, 'Don't bore me, for 
I don't want you?' " But Stasia would neither write nor tell 
me. When after a few hours of such conversation I pushed her to 
the wall, she answered only so much : " I cannot answer anything." 
— "Who can, if not you? Say only that you love me and I will 
do the rest. And if you don't answer me positively I will beg 
your parents for you." But Stasia begged me not to say any- 
thing to her parents, and answered nothing herself, though I used 
all my elocution. I was furious, but I could get nothing from her, 
and thus time passed. [Tries again with no result.] So I began 
to reason with myself during whole nights while working, and I 
came to the conclusion that I should throw Stasia out of my head. 
I tried to go to them as seldom as possible in order to break myself 
of Stasia a little. Meanwhile winter approached, boys came 
back from Prussia and began to gather in dozens in Mr. Lesiewicz's 
house. So I had nothing to do, for I could not adapt myself to 
them, for they were striplings. So I ceased to call on Miss Stasia, 
although we met from time to time upon the street. Almost 
every evening I took a walk to the cemetery, and there in silence 
and darkness . . . gave myself up to thoughts about Stasia. 
I confided to nobody, asked nobody for advice, for I had no true 
friends. I came to the conclusion that I should win more by 
leaving Stasia for some time. What had I reached during almost 
two years of calling on her every day? Almost nothing. My 
requests were like throwing peas against the wall, and Stasia pre- 
ferred to stay with striplings. And I began to cry like a child 
whose toy is spoiled, for I had become seriously attached to Stasia 
and I regretted to leave her. But I had to do it with regard to 
my own person, and I did not call any more.' Meanwhile the 

' The first and only time that Wladek suffers through love, and this in 
spite of, or rather because of, the sincerity of his attitude, while young boys 
who are intellectually his inferiors and want nothing more than amusement, 
succeed. His insuccess is an illustration of the well-known literary observa- 
tion that too much sincerity in love makes the individual less fit for competi- 
tion in courtship. This observation must, of course, be qualified, for when 
love means purely sexual attraction it must be sincere in order to provoke 
response. It is evidently the whole social context of love which disturbs 
this originally harmonious relation between desires. What is usually meant 
by seriousness or sincerity of love is not the genuineness of sexual attraction 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 367 

boys fought a war among themselves about Stasia. There were 
even real fights and the weaker one spread out various gossip 
which tarnished the honor of Stasia. But Stasia's parents were 
in the fifth heaven, since their daughter had such a success that 
boys were fighting for her, and they permitted every one to come 
to their house, even whelps who were besides very spoiled. Once 
I struck one of them in the face for having ofiFended Stasia in 
my presence. It was as follows. When the boys were returning 
late in the night from Mr. L.'s house they wanted fresh rolls and 
came into my bakery. The rolls were not yet ready, so they 
waited and talked about Stasia. Finally one of the boys said 
to me: "Do you know, today Stasia allowed me to touch her 
breast, and if I wanted to I could persuade her to foolish." With- 
out deliberation I drew my hand out of the dough and struck him 
on the face, then opened the door and threw him out of the bakery. 
Although there were five boys besides him they did not defend 
their companion; on the contrary they were glad that such a thing 
happened to him. Next evening I went to Mr. L. Stasia was 
not there, so I asked her parents why they allowed boys to come 
to their house who disgraced Miss Stasia, and I told them what 
that boy had said to me. Meanwhile Stasia came and I left. 
This was my last visit. Again great gossip began to spread about 
the village, and Mrs. L., in order to defend herself, said that 
Stasia refused me because I was too old, and said many other 
silly things about tee, which finally made me angry. Thus fin- 
ished my love story with Stasia. Even today I don't remember 

bu^ the genuineness and richness of those attitudes which in the given social 
group constitute the objectively valuable accompaniments of the sexual 
desire — the romantic idealization, the idea of marriage and family, etc. The 
individual who has these attitudes strongly developed finds himself in a posi- 
tion of inferiority as against one whose love is less elaborate whenever the 
object of the competition has not the same attitudes equally developed. Then 
the process of courtship with too much emphasis on its ideal or social content 
appears to that person as tedious, slow, overcomplicated, etc. Thence the 
superiority of the ruffian over the refined man with the girl of a lower class, 
the preference shown by Bohemians and viveurs for women of the demi-monde, 
the usual lack of success of the intellectualist, etc. In the present case the 
situation is the same. Wiadek puts too much stress on the objective side 
of the relation (which is here its reference to marriage) to suit Stasia, who is 
too undeveloped not to prefer the simpler and less complicated and merrier 
company of unintellectual peasant boys, who even if they think of marriage 
do not give its content too much elaboration. 



368 THE POLISH PEASANT 

her without regret, for she pleased me very much and really I 
would have married her, but human stupidity did not let it 
happen. 



Thus the second Christmas in Sadlno approached. I called 
on the Palaszynskis, but very seldom. Helcia told me more than 
once to ask her parents for her again, but I was deaf to this and 
went there only to spend time. Miss Helcia appointed meetings 
herself and tried to lead me to foolish with her and then to marry 
her, but I would not do this either. It happened that when I 
went to her in the evening there was nobody at home except her 
and she treated me with brandy and sat down upon my knees, but 
it finished only with kisses. Meanwhile I was calling on various 
girls in villages, whom some farmers [peasants] wanted to let me 
marry. These girls had rather large dowries. The largest which I 
had been promised was 1,500 roubles, the smallest 500. The dowry 
of almost each of them pleased me and I should have liked to take 
it, but without the girl. But alas! nobody would give it to me 
without the girl, and I did not want the girl, for none of them 
pleased me. None had any instruction, and there could be no 
question of love. Each of them wanted only to be the baker's 
wife, and that was all. I had called on five of them and received 
a basket from none, I was everywhere only once and I would not 
go any more. The horses cost me nothing, for the swat [match- 
maker] drove me without money, sometimes more than five 
wiorsta from Sadlno. I could have called not only on five, but on 
twenty-five, but I would not for I knew that in this way I should 
not find a wife. 

[Helcia contrives to have Wladek invited to the wedding of 
her cousin Waclaw, at Ruda. A rivalry and a quarrel arises 
between Helcia and Waclaw's sister Leonia, on account of Wladek. 
Leonia is more attractive and he is flirting with her. While the 
others are dancing, Helcia invites ^ladek to walk with her in the 
forest.] It was about two o'clock at night, but it was not very 
dark, for snow lay upon the earth. When we were far in the 
forest she stopped, embraced me with both arms and began to 
kiss me and to beg me to ask her parents once more for her. In 
spite of her request and of her kisses I did not agree with it but 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 369 

answered: "Miss Helena, I cannot do what you demand in any 
way, for then I should give the proof that I have no honor at all. 
I was slandered enough by your mother, so I cannot do it, although 
I love you." — "If you don't want to ask, go to Nowicki [her 
father's kum] and let him talk with my parents in your name." — 
"This is different and I can do it." And we agreed that I would 
send a mediator.' Helcia was very satisfied with the turn the 
matter took and almost strangled me in her embraces. She gave 
me the hint by her speech and by her behavior that she would be 
glad to foolish with me at this moment, within the forest and 
under the cover of the night. But I was. indifferent and pre- 
tended not to guess what she wanted. The opportunity was 
splendid, for we had entered far into the forest, but if I had fool- 
ished with her I should have been obliged to marry her, for Helcia 
would certainly have told her mother that I had violated her 
and I should have found myself in a not very decent situation. 
So I pretended to be satisfied with the foretaste and not to foolish 
with Helcia, for I had no intention at all of marrying her. But 
if instead of Helcia there had been somebody else, I would have 
shown what I knew. While walking about the forest Helcia 
confessed to me that she had 25 roubles put aside, of which her 
parents did not know, and promised to give them to me immedi- 
ately after her return to Sadlno. And she already addressed me 
by "thou," so sure she was that I would marry her. Amidst 
caresses and kisses we had walked for about two hours, and when 
we left the forest Helcia began to laugh at me, saying: "Well, 
Wladek, you are very clever. You had a girl alone in the forest, 
who had called you out herself, and you did nothing to her. Evi- 
dently you have little blood in you. I thought that you would 
act quite differently with me, but I see that there is no reason to 
be afraid of you." I looked her straight in the eyes, with com- 
miseration, for I had not expected her to be so silly as to talk 
about something like this. And after this I liked her less. She 
had gone a little too far in her love, and she did not know, poor 
girl, that she was losing much through it. Now I regretted not 
having foolished with her, for I ought to have foolished and then 
pushed her away from me, for she was not worthy of any respect, 
since she required from her betrothed — so she called me — a 

' His typical fear of an unpleasant reaction. But the situation had again 
become undefined, and cf. p. 361, note. 



370 THE POLISH PEASANT 

thing which condemned her in my eyes.' But I did not show it 
and said: "Miss Helena, this won't run away from me, and later 
it will taste still better." . . . Before we came into the village 
we met Mrs. Palaszynska who was searching for us. When she 
saw us she approached and said: "Mr. W., you have not acted 
nicely in calling Helcia to the forest. And you, Helcia, will get 
something from your father, for Leonia told your father that you 
went with the baker into the forest. Father is angry and he 
swore strongly, for he is rather drunk. I don't know what will 
happen when he sees you now." — "Why are you scolding so 
without need," I said; "nothing bad happened and you can be 
sure of the honor of your daughter. Have we done such a great 
sin in walking a little?" — "I don't forbid Helcia to walk, but 
why did you go so far.? You could have walked near the house 
instead of going to the forest. And now I don't know whether 
her father will pardon her and what people will say, for Leonia 
has told everybody, and you know our father." * Saying this, 
Mrs. P. and Helcia went into the house, and I remained outside 
and turned around the house to pass through the rear entrance. 
At the comer I met Leonia kissing the musician. I drew rapidly 
back, spit, and went into the house. Helcia was already dancing 
and Mr. P. was sitting with other people in the next room at a 
table and talking. I put everything on one card and sat down 
near Mr. P., offered him a cigarette, and began a conversation. 
He accepted the cigarette and did not mention Helcia at all. 
Seeing that he did not mention the matter, I left off and went 
to dance. Leonia was also back from her randka. I regretted 
very much having met her in such an action, for now she had no 
value any more for me and I felt rather an aversion toward her. 
I intended really to court her, but now I would not even think 
about her and was angry with myself for having gone there with- 
out necessity. It would perhaps have been better for me if I 
had seen nothing. But it was done, and Leonia had spoiled the 
rest of my amusement. I was awfully angry with her and Helcia 
and the whole feminine species for behaving so inconsiderately. 
Among so many girls whom I knew I could not find a wife! And 
I had such a desire for Leonia! I walked about as if I had been 

' Compare with the completely different attitude toward Dora, and 
c/. p. 365, note I. 

» There is an evident exaggeration on the part of Mrs. P., in order to 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 371 

beaten, and she noticed it and came near with the question why 
I was so sad. I asked her to take a seat near me and instead of 
answering asked her: ''Who is that musician who plays the cor- 
net? Do you know him well?" — "Yes, I know him," answered 
Leonia, "he lives in Wilczyn and plays at almost every party in 
Budzislaw" [her home]. — "Is he married?" — "No, he is a 
widower and has three children. But why do you ask so about 
him?" — "Oh, I am curious, for it seems to me that you are 
much in love with him and I fear I have a rival, for I see that he 
is a rather strong man." Miss Leonia laughed and said: "Oh, 
you don't need to fear him for he does not court me at all and 
I would not marry a widower." — "Yes, perhaps he does not 
court you, but it may be the contrary case." — "It is not so at 
all and you suspect me unjustly, for I have no connection, with 
him at all." — "I believe it, but tell me, is it nice when a girl 
lies?" — "No, it is not nice." — "And why do you lie to me?" — 
"I don't know how to lie, but why do you inquire so?" — "Be- 
cause I saw you with the musician." — "Where did you see me 
and when?" — "This morning at the comer of this house. Shall 
I tell you also what you were doing?" — "Thank you, I am not 
as curious as you who spy." — "I beg your pardon, I was not 
spying at all; I was there only accidentally and I am angry with 
myself for having gone there, for if I had not seen you I should 
think diflFerently about you, and now I am thinking differently." 
— "Why do you now think diflFerently? Is a kiss such a sin? 
Did you not kiss girls and don't you kiss them still and nobody 
takes it badly in you. Why do you wonder then at having seen 
me? You ought not to mention [or remember] it at all." — " Per- 
haps you are right, but you see I am awfully mistrusting and 
jealous. But what is done cannot be undone, and I will tell you 
the sincere truth, that I regret it very much." Our further 
conversation was interrupted by Miss Helena, who approached 
and asked what we were talking about. "So, about everything 
and nothing," I answered and went to dance with her. Miss 
Leonia remained sitting for awhile in the same place thinking 
deeply, but I never learned what about, and went into another 
room. She asked me whether I would come to them in the last 

make Wladek feel bound, and to give him an idea of the importance of her 
daughter. She would not be opposed to a new proposal from him, especially 
as it is well to have a suitor in reserve. 



372 THE POLISH PEASANT 

days of carnival, but instead of answering I shook my head and 
went away, with pain in my heart.* 

The next evening I went to the Palaszynski's and Helcia said 
that her father had scolded her severely and forbade her to walk 
with me for a whole month, but we did not care for it at all. Helcia 
did as she said and gave me 25 roubles, asking me to tell nobody, 
which I promised her. She requested me once more to go to 
Nowicki, and I went the next afternoon. Mr. Nowicki was Mr. 
Palaszynski's kum and they were in friendly relations, but he 
said: ''We can ask all right, but I advise you to let Miss Helena 
alone. Why, the Paiaszynskis have no money at all, and the old 
people both came to me asking us to lend them the 200 roubles 
which they had promised to you." — "I confess that I had no 
intention at all of marrying her, but since she begged me so to 
come to you I could not refuse, and when you are in their house, 
please mention something about me." [Pawel marries a nice 
but dowerless girl who worked in the same firm as himself. The 
wedding is beyond Lddz and only the mother goes.] 

In the beginning of autumn I had to take a journeyman for 
a whole month, for I received an official order to appear in Kutno 
for a monthly drill, and from Kutno we were sent to Pultusk. 
As the reader knows already, I corresponded with Kazia, so I 
resolved to call on her in passing through Warsaw and if it proved 
possible to propose at once. Stach and our parents agreed with 
this.' [Finds Kazia, Pelagia and Helena living in the suburb 

' We should not have expected this sentimental pain from Wladek at 
an earlier age; he is growing old, at least socially old. Youth has its out- 
bursts of jealousy and anger, but in a mature man whose life has assumed a 
determined direction and whose prospects for the future have become limited, 
every disappointment seems to mean a break in his vital interests and pro- 
vokes sadness. In the present case the disappointment is particularly sig- 
nificant to Wladek, because coming after a series of unsuccessful experiences 
with other girls and seeming to limit quite particularly his chances of finding 
the wife he wants. 

'Another manifestation of maturity. He has never loved Kazia and 
never recorded anything but indifference toward her; she has no dowry, 
and he really needs money to pay his parents. But she now appears as a 
proper mate because married life with her would bring no surprises, would 
be foreseen and determined and thus in accordance with the settled system 
of attitudes which Wladek has recently acquired. This security, which for- 
merly would have been an undesirable element as against the youthful expec* 



LIFE -RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 373 

Praga. Pelagia's husband drinks. The girls sew. ''Kazia lacked 
two front teeth, and on her and in every corner was seen dirt, 
disorder and great poverty." Wladek promises to stop again 
on his return.] I did not mention the question of marriage at 
all, for I wanted to reflect well about what I had seen and heard, 
but Kazia gave me to understand that she would like to leave 
Warsaw at any time and to go to the country, and this was enough 
for me. [Returning] I found also BroniS and Mrs. Pelagia's 
husband. . . . Next morning Broni§ and I went upon the street 
to buy cigarettes and to give the ladies time to dress. We walked 
about for a long while, and BroniS told me about his betrothed, 
who was more than fifty years old, but in his opinion was a rich 
widow, for she had 500 roubles in the bank and a shop where she 
was selling firewood. This betrothed was to come to them today. 
I thought in the beginning that Broni§ was speaking in jest, but 
I noticed that he was serious. The breakfast lasted until eleven, 
and again we talked about the past, when suddenly that betrothed 
of Broni§ came in, carrying under her apron a bottle of vodka and 
some apples. It was not necessary to observe her much in order 
to notice that she was one of the worst drunkards of Warsaw. 
Moreover she was very ugly. Her nose was very red and crooked 
as a hawk's beak, and tears flowed from her eyes continually. 
She was not fifty years old, as BroniS said, but in my opinion 
certainly over sixty. But they evidently did not pay any atten- 
tion to it, for they received her with great respect, calling her 
"Mrs.," and they seated her at the table. Mrs. Pelagia prepared 
the vodka, . . . and the glass went around as long as there was 
anything to drink. When the bottle was finished the betrothed 
of Broni^ sent for another, and when she drank some glasses more 
she was completely drunk. The three sisters and Broni§ enter- 
tained her as well as they could, and she talked nonsense. She 
became impossibly ugly, and saliva showed itself at the comers 
of her mouth. If I had been the master here I would have thrown 
her out long ago, but I had to bear her company. And BroniS 
made declarations to her, and they talked about the furnishing 
of their home. And not seldom various curses fell from her 
drunken lips. It was growing dark when she went away and 
Bronig had to accompany her, for she could not keep on her legs. 

tationof new experience, becomes now a sufficient asset to cause him to neglect 
the sentimental aspect. 



374 THE POLISH PEASANT 

I was very much displeased with all this, but I said nothing. In 
the evening again some persons came and they also brought liquor. 
Kazia introduced me to them as her betrothed, for Kazia had 
also drunk some glasses, and even the youngest Helena did not 
despise them. Finally one of them began to play the accordeon 
and we danced, I mostly with Kazia. When we finished dancing 
perhaps the fourth piece, Kazia said: "Mr. Wladyslaw looks 
like a clodhopper dancing with me in his long boots, does he not.^'' 
turning to the others. They laughed, and I felt very offended, 
so in order to say something, I said: "You may joke. Miss Kazia, 
but you know that I am returning from military drill, and the 
soldiers in the Russian army don't walk in evening dresses and 
shining shoes." Saying this, I sat down and did not rise any more 
to dance, for I was very angry with the tipsy Kazia. I waited 
for the appointed hour to get away from these silly Warsavian 
girls, but I did not let it be noticed that I was angry, and related 
various anecdotes from the drill. Kazia sat down near me more 
than once and tried to begin a conversation about our future, 
but I answered her very indifferently and promised to write about 
it. Kazia's sister also asked me when I would come and marry 
Kazia. To such a bold question I did not know how to answer, 
and found nothing else to say except that I had first to arrange a 
suitable cage and only then come for the bird. Mrs. Pelagia was 
satisfied with this. But I did not think any more, even for a 
second, of proposing to Kazia after what I had witnessed. Why, 
Kazia was already twenty-seven and should have been more 
reasonable in her behavior and in her talk. Although, except 
for her having drunk those few glasses and having offended me, 
she had done nothing wrong, still she displeased me positively. 
She would not be such a wife as I dreamed of. And I noticed 
no love in her at all, not a hearty feeling toward my person. She 
would marry me only for bread. But I wanted something 
else besides a piece of flesh, and not even a very warm 
one.' 

' There is a contrast between his expectations and the reality which 
would cause him to drop his designs even if Kazia were personally more 
attractive, and he hesitates only because he is not immediately able to define 
the situation. On the second visit the attitude of the family toward the 
old woman defines the situation with regard to the general respectability of 
the environment, the drinking of the girls confirms the impression that they 
have lost the decent and settled character of country girls, and Kazia's remark 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 375 

I felt hot in the room and among these girls with whom I had 
spent the years of my childhood. Alas! I had met one more 
deception, and I was angry for having come here, for now the room 
was full of uproar. So I took my hat and went upon the street. 
Broni^ followed me and we began to walk. He asked me for my 
opinion about his betrothed. Without circumlocutions, I said: 
"Do you know, Broni§, what I will tell you.? I would not let this 
old woman into my house. Why, that thing is more like a fury 
than a real woman. You are young and you can get a younger 
and prettier one, not such an old witch." — " But you must know," 
said Broni^, "that she has money and a shop, so if I married her 
I should have a good life." — "Eh, don't talk about her money! 
Before you marry her she will have time enough to waste it on 
drinking." — "Oh no, for she has it in the bank and she showed 
me the booklet. She fears to keep money at home, for she has two 
sons who are drunkards and would spend it on drinking." — "Then 
I will give you this advice, BroniS. Persuade the old woman to 
give you the book, or else to draw the money and to give it to you 
for keeping, and then run away from Warsaw and give the woman 
a kick in the backsides. This will be more profitable for you than 
marrying her." — "I thought about that," answered Broni§, "but 
she won't give me any money before the marriage, and I hope that 
she won't live long, and in that case the money and the shop would 
be mine." — "In that case do as you please."* And I turned 
the conversation to another subject. Meanwhile Miss Helena 
came out on the street and asked us to the apartment, in which I 
stayed for two hours more, until my companion came, and we 
left. 

Soon I wrote a letter to Kazia, saying that if she wanted to 
have a "clodhopper" for a husband, first to put 300 roubles aside. 
Kazia did not answer this letter at all, and thus our love-relation 
of many years came to an end. I never more wrote any letters 

about his dress helps him to define the third and most important element of 
the situation — lack of the warm familial atmosphere which he had expected. 

■ 

' Broni§ had been definitely exploited by his parents (kept at home to 
bring fire-wood, etc.) and this exploitation did not permit the development 
of any moral sense, but, on the contrary, makes him appreciate more than 
anything else the prospect of having money and doing nothing. This is the 
asocial individual, material for any antisocial influence, from lack of organiza- 
tion rather than from disorganization. 



376 THE POLISH PEASANT 

to her. And thus I had now no girl about whom I could think 
seriously, and at home things got worse and worse. [The family 
continues to take money from the business], my parents forgot 
completely that I was also a proprietor. . . . My situation be- 
came without an issue and I was almost sure that I should have 
to marry for money, without paying any attention to the girl. . . .' 
Meantime Easter was approaching, when we received a letter 
from sister Marya in America. She wrote that she intended to 
send lOO roubles to one of her friends in order that the latter might 
also come to America. I answered almost on the same day, 
asking her to send those lOO roubles rather to me, and I would go 
to America. Before Easter I had already received the lOO roubles, 
and now began to prepare seriously to go. I wrote letters to my 
family, saying that I would leave in the beginning of April. . . . 
My parents did not believe it and thought that I was joking, but 
I was not joking at all. Soon the whole village and parish knew 
it. But I had not yet all the money. I lacked at least 50 roubles, 
for when I put those 25 roubles from Miss Helcia and these from 
my sister together, there were 125 roubles in all, while I intended 
to take at least 175. I requested mother to give me the rest from 
her money, but she preferred to borrow and to give me rather 
than to touch hers." When Miss Helcia learned that I was really 
going to America she wrote a letter to her brother Stanislaw, who 
had been there for a year, and he promised to send her a ship- 
ticket. 



Meanwhile I received a letter from Pawel, who invited me to 
come to him for Easter to bid him goodbye, and promised to pay 
the cost of my journey one way. [Goes to Lodz. Pawel takes 
him for the Easter celebration to the house of his employer, where 
everything is very impressive.] I had never seen such luxurious 

' The situation is not so bad as this. He could find a suitable wife; he 
.does not prove fastidious when he finally chooses. He is demoralized by his 
own continual hesitations, and there is certainly a revival of the old vagabond- 
ing tendency, stimulated by the letter of Marya below. 

' Traditional attitude that money put aside for a determined purpose 
should not be touched. (C/. Vol. I, p. 164.) 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 377 

objects. . . . Meanwhile the hostess began to divide the egg with 
everybody, wishing something to each guest, and every one kissed 
her hand and thanked her. When my turn came she wished me 
to become rich in America and to come back to my fatherland, for 
she knew already from Pawel about my departure. I thanked 
her and wished: "May I receive you after my return as you do 
me." — "God grant it," answered Mrs. B. When she finished 
one of the maids carried in glasses filled with wine, the host offered 
a toast for general prosperity and the glasses were emptied. After 
this we began to talk in general until we were invited to the table. 
I did everything as the others did, . . . and don't laugh at me, 
dear reader, for acting like a monkey, but you would not do other- 
wise if you found yourself in a society higher than yourself. And 
then I was not acquainted with society life, I knew only the life 
of a tramp, a drunkard or a constable, so in order to avoid com- 
promising myself I preferred to do like the othefs. [Describes in 
detail the supper; dancing after supper.] After the dance the 
ladies asked one young man to sing, but he refused. Then Pawel 
whispered something to his wife and the latter went to Mrs. B. 
After awhile Mrs. B. approached me and began to request me to 
sing. I reddened like a girl and tried to excuse myself, saying 
that I did not know how to sing, but other ladies asked me also . . 
and finally Pawei gave me some courage. He accompanied me 
on the piano and I sang three pieces. When I finished I was 
applauded, and some ladies praised me aloud. . . . Pawet invited 
Mr. and Mrs. B. to his house, and the party ended. . . .' 

[Pawel begs Wladek not to go to America.] I don't know yet 
whether it was Pawel's influence or their own brotherly feeling, 
but after Pawel they all began to beg me — Lucus, Roman, sister- 
in-law — and moved me so that I began really to cry. I rose 
from the chair, walked about the room, and finally answered: 
"My dear ones! I regret much to leave my whole family and I 
don't know whether I shall come back and see anybody of my 
family, but I prefer to die there far away, even in misery, rather 
than remain here the laughing-stock of my family. You know the 

* This incident marks the culminating point of Wladek's social career; 
it is now the brightest spot in his remembrances and the topic on which he 
expanded most gladly to the editors. It gives him now a standard by which 
to judge his past and present life. It would probably have revived his old 
climbing tendencies if he had remained in Poland. 



378 ' THE POLISH PEASANT 

best, my Pawel, what I have experienced here. You as well as 
the others were ashamed of me when I was in Lddz. Wait, don't 
interrupt me. I don't consider that it was bad of you, for there 
were reasons enough to be ashamed; I was ashamed of myself. 
But this is past. Then I was a constable and I have letters in 
which I was laughed at. But this is also past, and with your help 
I put some roubles aside and established a bakery in company 
with my parents. Now, after two years of my labor and of my 
endeavors, what is left for me? Either to go again tramping or to 
marry *even a goat if she has money' [words from a song]. For 
my parents don't care. They tell me that I have spent this money 
long ago in drinking, eating and smoking; they simply drive me 
away from my own property. And this is not enough! They 
compromise me before girls whom I like in order that I may be 
refused, for they like it as it is now; they have a journeyman in 
me and treat me as such. And you see the profit I have from my 
bakery. I have not a copeck. To come here I topk some of the 
money which was for the journey to America. I owe you 50 
roubles and cannot give you back even a copeck. But this is not 
all. They require at least 200 roubles when I marry. And what 
for all this.? Have I cost my parents anything.? Have they spent 
money on me.? It is a duty to help one's parents, but not so as to 
give one's last shirt and to remain naked. [Family robs the 
common fund, etc.] There you have my reasons for going clearly 
exposed. I have nothing to regret. Perhaps there, beyond the 
water, I shall earn enough for my own bakery. Then I will 
come back, and if I don't earn, I won't come." Pawel rose, 
stretched out his hand and said: "You are right, Wladek, in 
claiming what is yours. I reflected about it long ago. I know our 
family, everybody has this hobby of putting money aside from the 
common fund, for I remembe/ in Luboty6 everybody had his own 
fund and I was no better than the others. But I did not know that 
our parents refused you the right to a partnership. But listen 
and you will be the owner of the business. I will go with you 
tomorrow to Sadlno, we will pay father 200 roubles and let him 
go somewhere else in search of a shop. You see I want to help 
you and will lend you 200 roubles more, so that you may not have 
to go to America." At these words of Pawel all eyes were turned 
on me, and this convinced me that all this was planned before my 
arrival. They were sure that I would accept with joy those 200 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 379 

roubles which Pawel offered me so generously, but they were much 
mistaken, for I shook Pawei's hand, thanked him heartily for his 
goodness and generosity, and said: "My Pawel, I cannot accept 
those 200 roubles, first, because you need them badly yourself, 
second, because it is not enough for me, and third, because I have 
already decided to go." — "How is that? You don't accept?" 
Pawel exclaimed, astonished, and Lucus rose to his feet. "No, 
I don't accept, for I told you that it is not enough for me." — 
"Why, you wrote that our parents want 200 roubles. If you 
don't believe that I will lend you this money, here you have it." 
And he took two notes of lOO roubles each from his pocket, putting 
them into my hand. But I pushed them away and said: "Listen, 
Pawel, to what I will tell you. Our parents want 200 roubles, it 
is true, but they want besides tfai$ to take all the money and 
everything in the shop. Just think how I should remain? As 
it is I have not a grosz. And on what should I carry on my 
business?" — "How is that? Our parents dare to demand this? 
In that case why shall you give 200 roubles?" — "I don't know, 
ask our parents. But never mind, for if even I succeeded in 
becoming the owner of the bakery there are two other obstacles. 
First, who will sell in the shop? And then, when shall I give so 
much money back? I owe you already 50 roubles, now you will 
give me 200, the money I have is borrowed, this makes 375 roubles. 
And if I go bankrupt, what then?" — "Why, you know how your 
business is going, why should you go bankrupt? Don't be afraid, 
but listen to me. Are you the only one who establishes a business 
on borrowed money? As to selling, you can take Zosia into the 
shop and then you can marry at once." — "Marry? It is not so 
easy for me as you imagine. For I cannot marry without dowry, 
and I don't want to marry for the sake of money alone. And as 
to Zosia, don't even talk about her, for I should have to keep a 
watchman for her. So in spite of my wish I cannot do as you 
propose." — "You can," answered Pawel, "only you don't want 
to, for you have already a taste for America.' But remember 
that you will write to me requesting me to send you money to come 

' The rapid decision not to accept the money shows that other than 
merely rational considerations are at work. We have more than once seen 
the same unwillingness to stay in the old conditions when the decision to 
change them had been reached; the attraction of the unknown then makes 
the known particularly unattractive. 



38o THE POLISH PEASANT 

back, and then I will remind you." — "Well, nothing can be done. 
Then you will send me money." — "No, I won't send you even 
a grosz," exclaimed Pawel, already in wrath. Now sister-in-law 
said: "Hush, Pawel, don*t get so much excited, for when I hear 
what Mr. Wladek says, I think he is right." But Pawel still 
scolded against our family and our parents, saying: ^^ PsiakreWy 
it is inhuman to drive one of us beyond the sea. But it is Stach 
who is so clever and knew how to instigate our parents. He is 
afraid he will have to help the old people." But finally he calmed 
down and only asked: "So our parents gave you nothing for your 
journey.?" — "Nothing, I have told you." — "This means that 
everything of yours is lost." — "I think so." — "And nothing 
will keep you in this country.?" — "Yes, I will remain, but on the 
condition that our parents give me one-half of the money that 
they took in in Sadlno, that they do not put money aside, each 
separately, that every year we divide equally whatever we earn, 
and that if I become the owner I shall have to give our parents 
only as much as would be due according to the calculation, and 
if I want to give more, it will be my business. These are the con- 
ditions which would keep me here, but it is impossible to fulfill 
them, for our parents won't agree. So I shall certainly go." — 
"Well, let it be so, if there is no other way, but I pity you very 
much. If I were rich I would establish a bakery on my own money 
and give it to you on your name-day, but I am only just climbing 
myself and it is very hard for me. But drink a glass more, per- 
haps you will sleep better." And Pawel put out a bottle of brandy 
and zakqski and we drank a glass each. The others went to bed, 
but I and Pawel stayed almost till morning, . . . got pretty tipsy, 
cried and kissed each other and went to sleep. . . .' 

I was to leave next afternoon, but Pawel received a telegram 
from Aleksy, who had taken his son to the gymnasium in Turek, 
saying that he would come to Lddz in the evening, so I stayed to 
see Aleksy and bid him goodbye. I went with Pawel to the shop 
and we talked there. Then my old girl, cousin Mania H., came 
to the shop. I did not recognize her at once, she was so changed, 

' We have in this episode a good example of the contrast between the 
demands of the old familial and the manifestations of the new personal soli- 
darity — subordination of the individual in the former, acknowledgment of 
his rights in the latter. And we see how the whole content of the idea of 
justice changes according to the change of standpoint. 



LIFE-RECX)RD OF AN IMMIGRANT 381 

but Pawei, after giving her the goods she wanted, said to me: 
"Well, Wladek, why do you not greet Mrs. M.?" I was a little 
ashamed, but approached and greeted her. Pawei asked her to 
sit down and I began to inquire how she was getting on. I 
learned that she was already the mother of two daughters and one 
son, and it was evident that she was not satisfied with her married 
life. For when I said: "You are already a mother, while I am 
still tramping," she answered: "Oh, I know how you are tramping, 
for I saw Janina (daughter of Aunt Nypel) and she told me about 
you. But I should prefer tramping to living as I am now." — 
"Why? Are you so unhappy? I heard from Pawei that you and 
your husband are succeeding well enough." — "Yes, I cannot 
complain about this, but it is better not to talk about the matter." 
— "Do you know that I am going to America?" — "I know, for 
Janina told me this also, and I came intentionally to buy butter 
in order to see you once more. But I must go, for my children 
are probably crying." I pitied her, for she was once so pretty, 
and now she was half-faded. Although she was not much over 
twenty-two, she looked thirty, and was not very nicely dressed. 

[Alesky comes. The brothers visit the Grand Cafe and spend 
50 roubles.] ' We sat down at a table, and Aleksy ordered a bottle 
of cognac and zakqski. As soon as the waiter went away girls 
began to turn around us and to flirt, each prettier than the other, 
and with large decolletes, so that almost the whole breast was to 
be seen. Soon we selected one each and sat at a larger table. 
Aleksy pretended to be an employee of the treasury office from 
Petersburg, although he had never seen Petersburg; Pawei, a 
merchant of the first guild, although he was only of the third; I, 
a traveling Polish-American agent, although I had no idea about 
it; Lucus, the son of a rich manor-owner, although he was only 
the son of a tavern-keeper. . . . 

During the dinner I asked each of my brothers to write down 
for me some advice for my future behavior. So Aleksy took his 
card and wrote the following words: "Work makes rich, drinking 
ruins." Pawei wrote: "Who is not married at thirty and rich 
at forty is a complete fool." Lucus wrote: "Civilize yourself." 
I would not accept any advice from Roman, for he was too young 
to give advice to his elders. I have kept this card up to the present 
and will leave it to my son. Aleksy left after the dinner . . . 

' Imitation of the higher classes, in particular of the country nobility. 



382 THE POLISH PEASANT 

and I the following morning. . . . Pawei accompanied me to the 
station. ... On the way I bought [gifts for people at home], 
and after a hearty goodbye, half weeping, I left the best one of my 
brothers. 

. . . Passing through Ozorkow, I called on Miss Helena G. 
to bid her farewell. I did not find her at home, so I wrote a note 
asking her to come, and sent it through the first girl I met upon 
the street. Meanwhile I talked with her father, drinking some 
beer, for which we had sent. Miss Helena came and we talked 
about one hour privately. Miss Helena regretted much my going 
away and put to me the same question as Pawet: "Don't you 
regret leaving your family and your country?" — "I do," I 
answered, "but everything must be done for money." And I 
am sure that if I had told her at this last moment that I would 
not go if she agreed to become my wife she would not have 
refused; I concluded it from her conversation. She asked me to 
write a letter from America — how it was there — and perhaps 
she would then like to go. I promised to write certainly and left 
her. In Sompolno I went to Stach and stayed there for two hours. 
I gave him some of the gifts . . . and promised to call again . . . 
Soon afterwards I was in Sadlno. My parents and sisters were 
very much pleased with the gifts I brought. [Secures a baker 
for them.] 

On the last evening I went to bid my acquaintances goodbye. 
I did not call on the Lesiewiczs, but stayed long enough with the 
Palaszy^skis. Helcia gave me i rouble, and as a token a hand* 
kerchief embroidered with her initials. When she asked me what 
token I would give her, I answered: "I leave you faith, hope and 
love, for I did not find any suitable token for you." Then once 
more I assured her that she ought not to abandon hope, for per- 
haps the time would come for us to marry, and I left, promising 
to call once more. Mrs. P. gave me two packages of cigarettes, 
asking me to give them to her son Stanisiaw, who was also in 
Chicago, where I was going. . . . 



I slept little this last night . . . and arose before sunrise. 
Mother got up immediately after me and was crying the whole 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 383 

time. My sisters did the same, and even father wiped some tears 
secretly, as well as I. ... At half-past seven we went to the 
church to pray to God for a happy journey. When I returned 
the horses were waiting. I ate the breakfast and began to bid 
my family goodbye. But who can describe this separation, full 
of tears? Mother hung herself upon my neck, began to kiss and 
to bless me, as if she did not expect to see me any more. Oh, 
dear mother, you have in your heart love enough for every child, 
even for the worst one! . . . Don't think that your son can ever 
forget your last kisses and blessings! They will accompany me 
in good or bad fortune to the grave. And now, when I describe 
this, far from you, dear mother, every letter is wet with tears, and 
thoughts are crossing my head, whether I shall see you any more 
and press myself again to your heart. ... I cannot write any 
more from tears. With my father the separation was also senti- 
mental, but not so much so as with mother. Then came my 
sisters, and I went away.' After a few steps I looked around in 
order to see once more, perhaps for the last time, her who had 
nursed me with her breast, and I heard the words, said with tears: 
"Go with God, and don't forget your old parents." Through the 
village I went afoot, for I wanted to drop in at the Paiaszyfiskis. 
My acquaintances stood before their houses and everybody wished 
me the same: "Go with God." I did not stay long 'with the 
Palaszyfiskis. There also everybody cried, particularly Helena. 
The whole family accompanied me to the cart. I mounted, said 
for the last time: "Remain with God," and we started. Once 
more I looked around and saw my parents standing on the thresh- 
old of their house. Mother sent the sign of the cross, my sisters 
waved their handkerchiefs, ... I answered with my hat . . . 
and soon the trees of the cemetery covered Sadlno from my eyes. 
... I began to cry much, but the driver tried to comfort me, so 
I mustered my courage and crossed myself. . . . 

[Voyage without special features. Plays cards on the boat, 
"and always with benefit to me, for I played with calculation."] 
It happened that I spent whole nights sitting upon the deck and 
looking upon the ocean and into the infinite space. Nobody 

' The sentimental character of this farewell, in contrast with the economic 
hardness of Wladek's parents — the dissociation of the personal and familial 
attitudes — results from the character of primary-group organization sketched 
in the introduction to Volume I. 



384 THE POLISH PEASANT 

hindered me there in my evening-prayer, for the passengers had 
gone to sleep in their berths. But what passengers they were! 
The ship was full of them, but they were unenlightened or quite 
poor people, who did not understand at all what they had left 
and where they were going. Each one of them left two mothers, 
the mother who had bred him and spent many sleepless nights 
at his cradle, and the other mother, his native country, which had 
fed him with her fruits. . . . But no one with whom I began a 
conversation about our country could or would understand what 
I was saying, and I did not find a single man with whom I could 
feel any sympathy. And I don't wonder very much, for they were 
like chaff which at a puff of the wind flies away from the pure 
grain. And they were fleeing, this chaff, carried by the wind to 
be scattered here. And Poland did not lose much when useless 
criminals, thieves, or tramps like me, cleared the country of their 
undesirable persons. . . . And how they were treated, these 
people! The last ship-servant pushed them, insulted, cursed, 
and there was nobody to care for them or to intercede for them. 
. . . For it happened also that some honest farmer who worked 
quietly upon his great grandfather's farm sold it for the money 
to get out of the slavery, without knowing that perhaps a still 
worse slavery was awaiting him; and such a citizen was treated 
in the worst way by some servant whose only task was to wash the 
spitting-boxes. And seeing this, the heart of the man who has 
some ideas bleeds, and raising his eyes to Heaven, he calls : ''God 
and Creator, for what do you punish this poor and ignorant 
people.? Why do you not send your lightning upon the oppressors 
of this nation? Why do you not cut off with your sword the 
heads of those who bear them high and scorn at these orphans 
who have no father upon the earth? . . . O God! have pity upon 
these poor people who through their own will, through persuasion, 
through necessity leave their country, their parents, wives and 
children. With what regret many of them were leaving their 
parents, wives, children, the farm houses in which they and their 
fathers saw Thy light! And they left it in order to improve their 
existence, to earn some roubles and to come back to all that which 
they had left. ... It is true that they are dark and utiinstructed, 
but even, therefore, they have not a king, a father of their own, 
who would try to educate his children. They have step-fathers, 
not one, but three tyrants who hold their step-children in a hard 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 385 

slavery. . . . This slavery, this lack of understanding of life, 
divests them of shame and ambition." [Two pages more of 
reflection on the same subject — defenselessness and ignorance 
of the Polish emigrant as a result of political conditions.] * 

[Met in Chicago by Marya*s husband, a very amiable man.] 
I spent almost two weeks in the best love with my sister and 
Stach, when once sister, returning from a visit, began to scold me 
for not searching for work, but sitting lazy. "You must know 
that in America everybody lives for himself. I gave you food 
without your paying for only one week, but after that you must 
pay $15 a month. And try to get work, for I am also poor." 
— "All right, but where shall I go for this work? You know that 
I am going every day to the Dziennik Chicagoski. Twice there 
were advertisements that bakers were needed, I went to these 
bakeries and was not taken. I have called on many bakers and 
all said that if they need me they will send a postcard. They 
may send for me at any time. Allow me to rest a little and to 
get a little acquainted with America, for I don't know where to 
go in search of work. In the evening Stach will tell me where the 
Polish bakeries are and I will go tomorrow." But sister flew into 
a greater rage and said: "You psiakrew, lazy-bones, you want to 
wait for Stach .^" And she began to abuse me and to insult me 
more and more, getting impossibly furious. Seeing what was 
coming and not wanting to quarrel with my sister, who was now pos- 
sessed by something, I took my hat and went out, . . . weeping. 

[Marya follows him, also crying, begs him to return, and says 
she was instigated by Mrs. Moraska.] The Moraskis were great 
friends of my sister and they came very often to us, particularly 
the wife. . . . They were people devoid of everything which a 
man ought to possess, and moreover they belonged to the sect of 
hakatists ' or baptists, for I could not learn the truth from them. 

' The inconsistency of his reflections — first treating his companions 
as "chaff" and then as worthy unfortunates — is the typical method of 
peasant generalization. An addition of contradictory unqualified statements, 
each expressing a side of the truth, always precedes a single qualified state- 
ment. The universal categorical judgment is the simplest logical form of the 
generalization and one that immediately presents itself to the untrained mind. 
(C/. Vol. I, Introduction: Theoretic and JEsthetic Interests.) 

* Wladek's failure to know that this is the term applied by the Poles to 
their oppressors in Prussia is significant in view of his claims to enlighten- 
ment and patriotism. 



386 THE POLISH PEASANT 

Mr. Moraski was over fifty years old, his wife perhaps ten years 
younger, but she considered herself still younger. He was always 
occupied with studying the Bible and would not even hear the 
Roman Catholic Church mentioned. Mrs. Moraska was occu- 
pied with gathering and carrying gossip among all her acquain- 
tances, and as my sister did not despise it either, they were insep- 
arable friends. Mrs. M. came to us four times a day, and my 
sister went as often to her. Stach simply hated Mrs. M., and the 
cause was this: Once sister had stayed with her longer than usual 
gossiping, and said: "I must be gone, for my husband will soon 
come back and I must cook the dinner for him." Then Mrs. M. 
said: "Why should you hurry, Mania?" (for she called her thus 
because of their old acquaintance), "why should you take any 
trouble with a man? If one dies you will get another. I would 
intentionally give as little to eat as possible to a dog's blood of 
a man so that he would croak [German: krepiren] sooner." My 
sister repeated this conversation to her husband, who since then 
could not bear the woman . . . and waited only for an oppor- 
tunity to throw her out of his door.^ * 

[Tells Stach of Marya's explosion and says that if there are 
more such days he will be obliged to live among strangers.] "It 
won't be so bad. You will quarrel and then get reconciled, for 
you are brother and sister," he said, for the reader must know 
that it is difficult to find such a character as my brother-in-law 
Sta^ had. He was not an instructed man, he had very little 
instruction, read and wrote with difficulty. He was originally 
from the province of Grodno and was the son of a rather poor 
farmer. At eighteen he got a place in a pharmacy in Grodno as 
a worker. He never was any druggist and never said it, only 
my sister made a druggist of him. After his military service he 
went to America, and found work in the McConnick factory, in 
which he had worked up to the present. As he was not a drunkard 
and had a decent appearance, he pleased my sister and she put 
nets to catch him. He fell in after some time, poor StaS, for he 
was worthy of a much better wife. She gave him often to under- 
stand who he was and from what family he came,* while she con- 
sidered herself something better. This pained him enormously, 

' We have studied elsewhere (/. g., Vol. II, Rozlowski series) the abnormal 
situation where a member of the family allies himself with an outsider against 
the family. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 387 

but he did not quarrel with her, for he knew both her sides, the 
bad one and the good one. He had passed a hard school of life 
and knew how to persuade and to excuse others. In a word, 
he was a man seldom found, and our characters were completely 
alike, with perhaps the one exception that he was less developed, 
which did not hinder him nevertheless from being good, polite 
and indulgent.' I must mention also that he was no less of a 
weeper than I, and when sister said something painful to him he 
at once wiped his eyes with his handkerchief; and this did not 
happen very seldom. ... It is painful and even not nice of me 
to write thus about my family, but it is necessary as a lesson for 
others. I must add that the company which my sister kept, 
that is, Mrs. Moraska, was something quite unbearable, and such 
a character as mine was needed to live with her. For from Mrs. 
M.'s lips fell continually "thunders," "choleras" and other curses 
and maledictions. Happily they were harmless, for half of man- 
kind would have perished if they had been put into effect. But 
"the dog's voice does not reach heaven." 

In the third week I got work in the bakery of Mr. Z. I owed 
my sister almost $75, and needed clothes, shoes and a hat. For 
the first week Mr. Z. gave me $10 and a rather big babka on Satur- 
day, and later I earned $12 every week, but I had no holidays. 
... In the first week I gave my sister $9 and kept $1, and later 
I gave her $11 every week, keeping only $1 for the car and tobacco, 
and other needs. Sometimes once a week I bought beer for 5c, 
sometimes Sta^ bought it. 

I was to pay Marya $15 a month, but ... in the second week 
of my work she came home from Moraska's crying, and "sat 
down upon me like a blind horse" [scolded] for paying her too 
little. I had gone to bed. "How is that?" I asked; "you said 
yourself that I should pay you $15." — "Yes, I said it, but 
Moraska says that you drink so much coffee and ought to pay 
more." — "Go to the devil with your Moraska! I don't board 
with her, but with you, and it is not her business how much coffee 
I drink. If you think that it is not enough and that you are 
losing on me, then say plainly how much you want and don't 

' In spite of the naive conceit of the comparison, there is an external 
similarity of behavior in the two men. But we know sufficiently that Wladek's 
kindness has its source in the wish to avoid trouble, to provoke only response 
that will be pleasant to him. 



388 THE POLISH PEASANT 

blubber about it." — "Then pay at least one dollar more and let 
it be sixteen." — "All right," I said, "I will pay you sixteen, but 
don*t say again next week that you have not enough." But 
after a month she raised again one dollar and I paid $17 for some 
months, and finally ^18. 



Meanwhile Miss Helcia wrote me not to write her any more 
letters, for in a month we should see each other in Chicago and 
talk. [She has three uncles in Chicago — Kazimierz, Franciszek, 
and Wincenty — and Wladek meets her at the house of Wincenty.] 
After a dozen kisses we decided as follows. Helcia would also 
try to find some work and would work until I could put ^100 
aside and buy clothes enough, even if it should take a whole year. 
Helcia agreed and we gave our word not to change this plan. 
Then Helcia asked me to give her those 25 roubles back which she 
gave me to keep, the rouble which she gave me on the evening of 
separation, and 4 roubles which my sister Zosia had borrowed 
from her. This made 30 roubles, or ^15. I had no money yet, 
for Helcia came in less than two months after me and I had given 
all my money to my sister, but I resolved to pay her this debt 
on next Tuesday, for this was my pay day. So I borrowed $11 
from my sister, and added ^11 from my pay, and went with the 
money to Helcia, but she would not take it and said: "Buy some- 
thing for yourself, for I don't need this money yet." [Loses ^10 
of the money. Scolds Helena for not taking it when offered. 
Pays her off gradually.] I visited Helcia twice a week. But she 
could not stay long with her aunt; they quarreled so that Helcia 
and her brother went to board with strangers. Helcia did not 
work, for her brother and her uncle Franciszek did not permit it, 
but paid board for her. Once Helcia asked me to go with her to 
her other aunt, whom I did not yet know. Helcia's aunt received 
us rather coldly and toward the end of our visit insulted Helcia 
to the last degree, not only her, but even her father, calling them 
"Hams" and gossips, and cursing Helcia in the worst way, for she 
said that Helcia had spread gossip about her. I was very much 
ashamed to be the witness of such a quarrel, and I learned things 
which a betrothed ought not to know. The aunt told Helcia the 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 389 

whole truth — that Helcia was running after men and loafing with 
boys, that she would not work but wanted somebody else to work 
for her, while she was only crawling about the family and making 
gossip. ... I heard there many other things, and evidently 
Helcia was guilty, for she did not know how to clear herself. When 
we left I said a few words to Helcia also, advising her not to mix 
into the affairs of the members of her family, for something Worse 
might happen with her than what happened today. Helcia 
promised to improve, for she was awfully ashamed, but alas! she 
did not improve. Soon after this incident she wrote home that 
her uncle Franciszek was wasting money on girls, and he received 
from his parents a letter full of reproaches. Franciszek got awfully 
angry at this and stopped paying Helcia's board. In a word, 
Helcia quarreled with her whole family. Her brother could not 
earn enough to pay for the board and clothing of himself and 
Helcia and they went to live with their uncle Kazimierz, who had 
a house of his own. But here also Helcia would not go to work 
but required her brother to work for her. But he refused posi- 
tively to give her any more money and she was obliged to go to 
work. This did not please Helcia much, for she wanted to play 
the lady at other people's expense. Then she found a new way. 
She persuaded her uncle to persuade me not to wait until I earned 
those ^loo but to marry her at once. But I refused positively to 
think of marriage until I put a suitable sum aside. Helcia 
was very much displeased and began to look for some other 
boy. 

I went to her as usual twice or three times a week. Mr. 
Stanislaw was not at home in the evenings, so we were alone and 
sat on his bed and even lay upon it, for I did with Helcia whatever 
I wanted, and it was difficult to hold out. But I did not begin 
to foolish although I was sure that Helcia would not defend herself 
at all. I don't know myself why I would not do it. And thus 
the time passed until I received a letter from sister Zosia informing 
me that my parents and Helcia's parents had quarreled because 
my mother was said to have told that Helcia went to America 
following me. Mrs. P. got offended, and, as Zosia said, wrote 
a letter to Helcia forbidding her to marry me. But Helcia did 
not show me this letter, and I did not care for all this, and did not 
cease to call on her. But once I met there another boy who was 
telling her fortune from cards and talking to her rather familiarly. 



390 THE POLISH PEASANT 

This displeased me at once, and I resolved to leave Helcia, but had 
no opportunity to do it. 

Precisely when I was thinking how to do it a companion of 
my brother-in-law was marrying and invited my sister and her 
husband to his wedding. They had planned to go to Helcia, 
who had invited them more than once, so they resolved not to go 
to the wedding, but to Helcia. But I wanted to be at this wedding 
at least for a few hours, for I was curious to see how these weddings 
were celebrated here in America. ... I drank a little at this 
wedding, but not so much as to be drunk, and went to Helcia. 
She began to reproach me for not having come with my brother- 
in-law. "Is it suitable to act so?" she asked me. Only now I 
said: "Miss Helcia, is it suitable to have a betrothed and to walk 
with other boys and to receive them in your house?" — "Why, 
I am not yet your wife and you cannot forbid me to walk with 
other boys or to receive them here." — "I don't need to forbid 
you; you are not the only girl in Chicago; there are many and I 
can find another." — "I can also find another boy, for boys are 
not lacking in Chicago either." Our conversation was interrupted 
by the entrance of my sister. 

I then ceased to think about Helcia, but sometimes I went 
there on Sundays and always found some other boy with her. 
We were not angry with each other; we never mentioned the 
question of marriage, but we were always equally familiar in 
our behavior.* About that time Helena received a letter from her 
cousin Ludwika, whom the reader knows a little already, for she 
was at my betrothal with Helena in Sadlno. Ludwika had been 
in America, at Niagara Falls, for sOme months. That other 
cousin with whom I was at a wedding was with her. They came 
in the same month as Helcia, and they wrote that they were 
succeeding pretty well. Ludwika asked Helcia whether I was 
calling on her and whether we would marry. When Helcia's 
brother read this letter he resolved to bring Ludwika to Chicago 
and marry her, and he sent a letter with this proposal. 

I met Helcia's uncle Franciszek very often and told him that 
I would not marry Helcia. He was very glad, and said: "You 
will do well, for she is not worthy. She cost me more than $ioo 
which I spent on gifts for her and on her living, and in spite of 

^The same vague situation as in the case of Helena G. (C/. p. 361, 
note.) 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 391 

this she wrote gossip about me to my parents. She expected to 
many you at once and would not go to work, and now she works 
and it is good for her, psiakretoJ* Meanwhile I received a few 
letters from my family. Zosia wrote back various gossip — that 
I was here in America driving in cabs from tavern to tavern, that 
I was drinking impossibly, that Helcia had driven me out of her 
house. Such letters I received from Sadlno. ... In a word, 
Helcia had described me also. 

I continued to call from time to time, and she had perhaps the 
sixth suitor here in America. She walked a few days or weeks 
with each of them and they separated. But now she was really 
to marry a certain Mr. W. and was waiting for the parents' per- 
mission. Mr. W. came from the same part of the country as 
Helcia and they knew each other very well when they were children; 
Helcia's parents knew him also. He had been eight years in 
America, but he did not own even a cent of money. Now he was 
working and earning well enough, for he belonged to the black- 
smith's union. But his past in America was not very enviable. 
As I learned from uncle Franciszek, he had sat in prison here, had 
quarrels and fights in taverns, where he was leaving his pay. . . . 
This incident [betrothal] happened toward the end of October of 
the year when we came to America. Once when going from Helcia, 
I met uncle Franciszek, who invited me to a saloon for a glass of 
beer. When we drank half a glass each, he said: ''Well, it seems 
as if you really did not intend to marry Helcia, for I hear that W. 
is giving money for the banns." And here he related what I 
described above. "But let them marry. Perhaps the man will 
teach her some better sense." — "Mr. Francisssek, do you know 
what Miss Ludwika answered Stanisiaw — whether she will come 
to Chicago.?" — "I know, for Stanisiaw told it in Kazimierz's 
house. Ludwika answered that she was all right there and would 
not come to Chicago. But do you know, Mr. Wladyslaw, what 
I will tell you ? You could marry Ludwika. She is also my cousin, 
a still nearer one than Helcia." And he began to persuade me 
to marry Ludwika, about whom I had not thought up to the 
present. I answered: "I will see. Perhaps I will write to her, 
and we shall talk when she answers." 

I now began to think seriously about Ludwika, and I would 
have written at once to her, but I had no address. So during the 
week I asked my sister to go to Helcia and to bring me Ludwika's 



392 THE POLISH PEASANT 

address. But I begged her not to tell that this address was for 
me, only that Zosia wrote from our country and asked for it, for 
she wanted to write to Ludwika. . . . When Marya brought 
this address, I wrote a letter at once and proposed in the first 
letter, saying: ^'If you are still the same as I knew you in Sadlno 
in your aunt's house, if you are such as you were then and if you 
have not forgotten the baker Wiszniewski, I beg you very much, 
deign to answer me, after a good reflection, whether you will 
become my wife and share with me good or bad fortune. I don't 
promise you. Miss Ludwika, a very rosy life, for I am not a rich 
man, but a workman, and I can give you only a life suitable for 
a workman. I beg you answer positively, yes or no, and whether 
you are free of any love." Then I added a few love-words and 
mailed the letter. In less than a week I received an answer. 
Ludwika wrote that she agreed with my proposal and would 
become my wife.* Finally, in my fourth letter, I asked her to 
come to Chicago that we might marry here, but I received an 
answer that Ludwika would not come here alone, but asked me 
to come and take her. She asked me not to hurry, for she had 
still ^15 of debt to send to her mother. I did not like to postpone 
the matter, so I wrote that I could send her those $15, but let 
her not demand my coming for her, for it would cost much and 

' Wladek has been for a long time ready to marry in general; the maturity 
he has attained, with its tendency to conform with the social organization, 
demanded marriage. But there were still personal demands forming ob- 
stacles to this tendency — the demands for love, respectability, and money. 
Now it is not particularly difficult to satisfy all these demands if the individual, 
as in the case of the higher classes, does not make his marriage dependent 
upon the arrival of the period of his social maturity, either because he marries 
before this period (social maturity coming much later among the intelligent 
classes and being to a large extent conditioned by the previous marriage 
itself) or because — if social maturity has come without his marrying — he 
can afford to wait indefinitely, for the higher classes have a place in life for 
the single individual. But Wladek would not marry before social maturity 
and will not wait after it. Therefore he is obliged gradually to drop or modify 
all his claims. The claim for love was dropped after his insuccess with Stasia 
and in connection with Helena G. and Helena P. He no longer needs money 
as he did in Poland. Finally, the demand for social respectability is limited 
to the desire to get a nice, ''orderly" girl, for in America the petty social 
distinctions prevailing in the lower European classes tend to disappear. This 
explains the sudden determination of Wladek to marry. Perhaps the imme- 
diate stimulation came in the wish to get what the brother of Helena had 
failed to get. In this whole connection, see Vol. I, Introduction: Marriage. 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 393 

this money should be kept rather for the future. But Ludwika 
would not hear about coining alone, so seeing that I could not 
persuade her, I resolved to go on New Year, and asked her to be 
ready.' 

Meanwhile I prepared for this important event. I told 
neither Miss Helcia nor her brother, but uncle Franciszek knew it 
and was glad that we should belong to the same family. [Is per- 
mitted to make the trip by his employer, but is fearful that, he 
will lose his place, as the owner's brother, a baker, has arrived.] 
I went with an awful heart-beating, for an important change was 
'to happen in my life. I took with me $64 and left $70 in the 
bank. I had not a cent of debt, having paid about $70 to my 
sister and $15 to Miss Helcia. Moreover I lost $10, bought 
clothes, shoes, linen, a hat, etc. This was almost $150, yet I 
had succeeded in putting almost $140 aside in less than eight 
months at $13 a week. So it is easy to understand how I wasted 
money on drinking, as Helcia wrote to Sadlno. I was almost 
sure that I should be able to give my wife a suitable support, for 
even if I lost my work brother-in-law promised to find me some 
in the McCormick works. 

So I reflected during my journey, but I was not afraid. "It 
won't be worse than it has been, and God's will be done!" I said 
almost aloud, quite decided. In Buffalo I changed trains and 
about eight in the morning I was in Niagara Falls. I went in 
search of Ludwika's uncle, who had a saloon. I went in, ordered 
a glass of whiskey and asked where Mr. Pradelski lived. I was 
shown upstairs and found the whole family at breakfast, except 
Ludwika. She was on duty in a different part of town. But I 
met Leonia, whom I knew from the wedding, and she introduced 
me. We telephoned for Ludwika, who came an hour later. Our 
meeting was rather indifferent, for we only shook hands and looked 
into each other's eyes, as if we wanted to know each other's 
thoughts. Ludwika had not given up her place, for she was not 
sure that I would really come. We did not stay long in the house, 
for we felt rather uncomfortable, and, moreover, Ludwika had to 
hurry and settle everything rapidly. So she went back to her 
mistress and I accompanied her a little way. Only upon the 
street we could talk, and Ludwika agreed to go with me. [Gives 

' According to the tradition she would have shown a lack of self-respect 
in coming. 



394 THE POLISH PEASANT 

Ludwika ^15 to pay her debt, and in Chicago gives her $40 for 
dress, slippers, etc.] 

Franciszek came the same evening and almost invited himself 
to be bridegroom, promising to bring brandy, beer, wine, and to 
pay for the auto. And all would have been quite well if it had 
not been for another trouble. On January 14th I was dismissed. 
And the reason was the following: This year the winter was 
rather hard, so it was very cold in the bakery, for we baked little. 
Every night I had to wait three or four hours after making the 
rolls, and having nothing to do I lay upon the table near the oven 
and fell asleep. It very seldom happened that I overslept even a 
little, and I had never spoiled anything and the rolls were always 
in time. This time I did the same, but I slept perhaps half an 
hour longer than I needed, and Mr. Z. found me sleeping. He 
got angry, although I should not have spoiled anything even if 
I had slept two hours more. This happened after the second 
banns and since then some Fatum has hung above my head. 
During this week I did not try to get work, for I had occupation 
enough at home, preparing for the wedding. First Ludwika and 
I went to her relatives, inviting them to the wedding, and they all 
promised to come. We invited Miss Helcia also, but she refused 
positively under the pretext that she could not come since Fran- 
ciszek would be present. Then we invited some acquaintances, 
among whom was Moraska with her husband and two daughters, 
twelve and fourteen years old. The wedding was performed on 
January 28th, 19149 in the church of St. Anna, for we belonged to 
this parish. From the church we went to a photographer and 
there I left my last $2. There were twenty-two persons at the 
wedding, not counting my people. Franciszek did as he promised, 
and he also lent me $10 before the wedding and brought two 
musicians. The wedding festival was very decent. Before 
leaving uncle Wincenty put $10 into my wife's hand, Franciszek 
gave her the money which he had lent me, and one family gave 
$5. This is all I collected at my wedding. Six families gave not 
a cent, nor any gift either. 

A week after our marriage the first banns of Helcia with Mr. 
W. were published, and three weeks later they were married in 
the parish of St. Marya. Helcia's betrothed and her brother 
came to invite us also. I would not go, for I had no money, but 
Helcia's brother gave my wife $5 to be given to Helcia during the 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 395 

collection, and we resolved to go. Helcia's wedding festival took 
place in a hall, and there were eighty guests and five musicians. 
But I was not pleased with this wedding at all, for it was done only 
for business. Helcia collected $324, and the cost was $375, so 
in spite of her hot desire to get rich at her wedding she did not 
succeed and had to pay the rest of the wedding debt from her 
husband's work. But nevertheless she had the honor of having 
many guests at her wedding and collecting $324. But this money 
was drawn almost by violence from every guest, for Helcia ap- 
proached every one and took him to dance, and he had to put 
something upon the plate.* But after the wedding she succeeded 
better, for her husband worked steadily, and soon they moved 
into a nicer apartment. 

And with me things went on worse and worse, for after my 
wedding I remained with ^5, while my wife gave $10 to the butcher. 
I could not find work in spite of my efforts. Brother-in-law 
could not or would not get work for me; I went from one cousin 
of my wife to another, asking them to get work for me, but they 
could not or would not either, although all of them worked in the 
stockyards. ... I had no money to pay the agent, . . . and 
thus March came. Sister fell sick at child-birth, some other 
sickness developed and she was ready to bid farewell to this 
world. The priest had already prepared her, we knelt, weeping, 
and said the Litany for dying persons, while two doctors worked 
at her bed. But who can describe the despair of my sister's 
husband, not to mention mine! He was almost killed by a car. 
He had to run to a drug store for medicine and when returning 
tried to mount a car, but was dragged half a block. When he 
came in he put the medicine upon the table and fell upon the floor. 
The doctors brought him to consciousness with difficulty and 
ordered him to be taken into another room. There Stach threw 
his arms around my neck and began to cry violently and I did 
the same. Finally I began to calm him and to persuade him that 
crying does not help: "Look at this image of God's mother upon 
the wall. Let us appeal to her and pray her to avert this mis- 
fortune." We both fell upon our knees before the image and 
began to say aloud the prayers which I knew by heart. Thus we 

' A complete degeneration of the old custom of making wedding gifts; 
an expression of solidarity is converted into a business enterprise. C/. Vol. I, 
Introduction: Economic Life, p. 175. 



396 THE POLISH PEASANT 

knelt for an hour perhaps and this calmed us greatly. I don't 
know whether our warm prayer was listened to or the doctors 
helped but [she recovered. The illness cost $130. During her 
convalescence Marya is very cross with Ludwika.] When I 
returned from my search for work I usually found my wife crying, 
and when I asked what was the matter, she answered that Marya 
abused her, called her a Haniy a servant who carried out the pots 
when serving, and teased her in various ways. She said that my 
wife had not helped her enough in her sickness, that she did not 
clean the apartment properly. In a word, my wife complained 
very much about my sister. I had not a cent, so against my will 
I had to stay and to bear all this. It happened that I did not 
eat during a whole day and did not come home, for when I did 
not look upon this misery into which I had led my wife I felt 
better. Sometimes I tore my hair from my head in despair, I 
cried, and more than once I thought about throwing myself under 
the car in order to end such a life once for all. But again other 
thoughts came to my head. "Why, I married only a short time 
ago, I have not even enjoyed married life, and already I will die.^ 
Perhaps tomorrow I shall get work and everything will be 
changed!" 

[Insists on cooking separately; otherwise will board with 
Helcia. After an uproar this is arranged.] But now there was a 
new trouble — where to get the money for living. My wife got 
some work and earned $3 a week, so we lived only so as not to 
die of hunger, for now that we were boarding ourselves my sister 
never treated us with even a potato. The butcher, who was also 
a grocer, gave us credit for $15 and would not give any more, so 
we lived only on the money which my wife earned. She did not 
earn always ^3, but often ^2.50 or even $2. ... I borrowed $15 
from Franciszek, but I had to buy shoes for myself and for my 
wife. . . . We went nowhere, for we had no money and no clothes. 
And sister teased us more and more. I could not find work 
although I spent every day in searching. . . . Only in the autumn, 
my brother-in-law lent me $5 which I gave to an agent and got 
work in a saloon as a workman. I worked there five weeks and 
was dismissed. Winter approached. . . . My wife stopped work- 
ing for she was pregnant. . . . About this time I read an advertise- 
ment in the paper Dziennik Chicagoski that whoever had letters 
from the old country could bring them and would receive for every 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 397 

letter 10 to 15 cents. I had some thirty letters and resolved to 
sell them in order to buy bread. Sister gave me hers also, from 
mere avarice, for she did not need to sell them, since she had 
enough to eat. I carried these letters to the address which was 
in the paper. This gentleman was very polite and paid me $5 
for the letters. ... I was very glad, having earned thus easily 
for a whole week of living. I gave $2 to my sister and kept the 
rest. 

Toward the end of November I got work in the stockyards, 
but I earned very little, for I was paid 17J cents for an hour and 
worked only twenty-two to thirty hours in a week. ... I expected 
my wife's sickness very soon and had no money. . . . Then I 
wrote a letter to Dr. Z., asking him about the address of a hospital 
and complaining that I had nothing to live on. I soon received 
an answer. Dr. Z. gave me three addresses of hospitals where 
such women were received and wrote me at the same time that 
if I wanted to earn a few dollars I could describe my life, seiiding 
first a few shetets to try. Of course I set to work immediately, 
wrote five sheets and sent them, waiting for the results. Soon 
I received a letter asking me to come. Dr. Z. told me that he was 
satisfied with what I had written and promised to give me ^30 
for two hundred sheets. I was awfully glad, for now I needed 
money very much. I began to work earnestly and slept little 
at night but wrote continually, except when I had to go to my 
work in the stockyards. 

On December 13th my wife gave me a big son. [Marya con- 
tinues ill-natured.] I wrote still more assiduously in order to 
earn as rapidly as possible and to move from my sister's. I 
wanted also to arrange a christening of my son, but my sister did 
not want me to have the christening; she called me a speculator, 
saying that I wanted to arrange the christening only to have the 
guests give me money, and she envied me beforehand this money 
which I should receive. But I did not pay any attention to her 
tongue, and resolved to baptize my son on January loth. I went 
to invite the kums and a few guests. I invited uncle Wincenty 
and Franciszek's wife to be my kums. For Franciszek had married 
meanwhile a widow with five children. I invited also uncle 
Kazimierz and his wife, and went to Mrs. Helcia. But I did not 
invite the latter at all, for she intended to arrange on the same day 
the christening of her little daughter born three weeks after my 



398 THE POLISH PEASANT 

son, so they could not have come even if they wanted to. I in* 
vited also a friend of my brother-in-law, and those were all the 
guests. The kum wanted to hire an auto, but I asked him not to 
do it, for the chprch was near. I expected still another person, 
a friend from Sadlno who came to America before me and lived 
now in Milwaukee. We wrote from time to time to each other 
and he was even to be my kunif but he was late with his letter, and 
not being sure whether he would come, I invited others. Sud- 
denly, on Thursday, I received a letter from him saying that he 
would certainly come and asking me to order an auto. I was 
very troubled for I regretted to disappoint him. So I resolved 
to have two pairs of god-parents for my son. I had already one, 
and I asked my sister to be the second with Mr. Leon (such was 
the name of my friend). Sister agreed, although unwillingly, 
and so it was decided. Stach ordered an auto for Leon, for the 
latter was still a bachelor and could pay. But before this Sunday 
came I quarreled more than once with my sister, for she would 
not allow me to do anything and would not give me coal for baking 
and cooking until I paid her 50 cents. I baked two cakes, two 
chickens, five pounds of pork; I bought three pounds of meat for 
soup, some ham and sausage, a small keg of beer for 75 cents, half 
a gallon of whiskey and some fruit. All this cost me $9, but as 
I had not so much money, I bought for $z on credit. Nothing 
was left in my pocket. It was a bad entertainment, but what 
could I do, poor fellow? I could ndt act otherwise, and thanked 
God warmly for having allowed me to organize at least such a 
christening for my son. On Sunday Leon arrived about ten 
o'clock. It was my duty to beg his pardon for having already 
another pair of kums. He was pained, but not angered, and 
agreed to be in the second with my sister. I was very glad of 
having satisfied him more or less. After breakfast I went on the 
street to see whether other guests were not coming. I stood until 
the car passed, but nobody came and I returned home. Through 
the open door I heard my sister's voice: "Don't agree to go in the 
second pair, Mr. Leon, for the second pair has no importance 
whatever." I did not wait for more, but came in and in Leon's 
presence scolded my sister well. But I had again to beg Leon's 
pardon and to persuade him. I succeeded in explaining to him 
the importance of the second pair, but now he was not so easily 
persuaded and said: "Let there be rather no second pair. Let 



■^^ 



LIFE-RECORD OF AN IMMIGRANT 399 

those go to the church whom you had asked." But finally he 
agreed. Now I did not leave my sister alone with Mr. Leon even 
for a moment lest she should spoil everything. After a short time 
uncles Franciszek and Wincenty arrived with their wives. I felt 
my heart getting lighter. Before evening one more pair came, 
my brother-in-law's friends, and these were all the guests. We 
amused ourselves rather merrily until eleven. Then the guests 
went away, except Mr. Leon, who remained over night. The 
next day I went with him to South Chicago to his friends, . • . 
and the following day he left, with a cloud upon his brow and 
anger in his heart toward me. But it was not my fault; it was 
the fault of his letter, which came too late. I could not have 
waited until the last day without writing the hums. But what is 
done cannot be undone. 

When I returned home after Leon's departure my wife showed 
me $28 which had been given her. Uncle Wincenty gave $10, 
Uncle Franciszek, $6, his wife the baptismal dress, worth at least 
$4, my brother-in-law's friend $2, and Leon $10. So now I was 
very rich. My wife paid the debts to the midwife and to the 
grocer, I bought a cradle, we used $2 on living and I put $20 aside 
for moving away from my sister's, for she made too much trouble 
and it was impossible to hold out. Sister wanted me to give her 
those $20 on account of my debt, but I did not agree. . . . 

In the stockyards we were working less and less. . . . Fifty 
men were dismissed, among them myself. I received $9 for the 
last week. Now I searched for work in the morning and wrote 
in the afternoon. Soon I wrote again some pages and received 
$10. Now I began to search for an apartment. I found one on 
Leavitt Street. ... I had to pay ^5 monthly. It comprised a 
kitchen and a bedroom, but even so I was very satisfied, for I had 
an apartment of my own, and I cannot even describe the joy of 
my wife. We moved on March 20th, and since then we have 
lived only on the money which I earn by writing. ... It would 
be really better if I had died long ago, for I have no hope of getting 
work. Perhaps I shall get some work from the agent, but there 
I shall be allowed to work only until I earn a little above the $5 
paid to the agent. It is awfully difiicult to get work without 
protection, because of the terrible crisis brought by the European 
war. ... I cannot even now take a walk with my wife, for she 
has not even shoes to put on her feet, but wears my old shoes. 



400 THE POLISH PEASANT 

And she must bear all this through me, for I brought her to this. 
And only sometimes tears flowing from her eyes show what is 
going on in her heart. ^She never reproaches me and I love her 
still more for this, for she is worthy of t^ love. She suffers for 
me, like a slave, and nobody pities her.^We don't go now to 
her uncles, for we have neither clothes nor money, and nobody 
cares for poor people. From time to time we see my sister and 
brother-in-law. Brother-in-law sometimes tries to comfort us, 
but sister . . . always says something painful to my wife. . j,. 
Thus I have improved my lot in this America which our immi-^ 
grants adore! ' J 

' The letters to Wladek from his family do not add any important points 
to his narrative and do not contradict it in any way. We add only a few 
typical extracts: 

"We see that you are glad because we have trouble with the journeymen. 
It is true that we have trouble with this whole bakery, but with you there 
was trouble enough also. We have now a journeyman who does not cost us 
much." [Parents.] 

"You write me that I did not like you. How did you reach that con- 
clusion? On the contrary, I love and appreciate you all equally. If your 
behavior did not please me [my judgment of] that cannot be applied to your 
person. Because a man, in whatever direction and in whatever career he 
works, can always merit regard and respect. And you, my dear, have no 
one to blame but yourself if you are so unfortunate and have to struggle 
with life. We all had the same fortune, the same education, the same father 
and mother. Whose then is the fault? Your own only. Because, see here! 
I sent you to Konin to practice as a surgeon-assistant; you ought to have been 
patient. And later on in the army, you could have got a diploma as surgeon- 
assistant. Should you be badly off? There are governmental surgeon- 
assistants in districts, in hospitals and in factories, and so far as I know they 
are getting on very well and their income approaches i,8oo roubles yearly. 
So, my dear brother, don't complain about anybody, but pray, work and be 
sober, and you will be a man of medium fortune." [Aleksy.] 

"But I know that if a man wishes to work he can find a profitable occu- 
pation even here in the kingdom [of Poland]. He must only have the wish 
and the patience to work, be honest, do his duty conscientiously; people 
will appreciate him and reward him justly. But you must sit patiently and 
for a longer time on the same spot, and not run from place to place, like you> 
you nomad. But do what you think best; I don't mean to persuade or dis- 
suade you, I only say that 'Everywhere it is well where we are not.' " [PaweL] 

"Don't praise your work so much, my dear Wladzio, during the time you 
were at home; you drank more than one glass and you smoked more than one 
cigarette, and remember how much [bread] you spoiled." [Zocha.] 



CONCLUSION 

We have determined analytically in the notes the 
most important facts in Wladek's personal evolution, 
and we add at this point a brief synthesis of this 
evolution. 

In so far as his temperamental background is 
concerned, Wladek is perfectly normal, in the sense 
that there is neither a striking lack nor a striking / 
excess of any temperamental attitude. His organism 
is healthy without being particularly powerful, and 
he shows great physical endurance. His sexual im- 
pulses are rather intense but never overwhelming, and 
are subordinated without difficulty to the demands 
of practical life. Like the average members of his 
class he uses alcohol freely, but no permanently dis- 
organizing biological effects are noticeable in his 
behavior. And we find in his temperament neither 
any exceptional buoyancy which would push him to 
search continually for new experiences in any one line 
nor any exceptional depression that would lead to a 
too great stability. The relative proportion in which 
these two desires manifest themselves alternatively 
in his life seems to be quite average; whatever abnor-. 
mality their manifestations present is social, not tem- . 
peramental, results from an insufficient organization 
of the activities determined by these desires, not from 
an abnormal prevalence of pne desire over the other. 
His intellectual abilities are above the average, as is 
shown by the facility with which he learns in school 
and in the army and by the clever way in which he 
handles the superficial notions about the world and 
life which he gained from his unsystematic reading 

401 



402 THE POLISH PEASANT 

and occasional intercourse with more instructed people, 
and by his ability to work out general ideas about 
social conditions on the ground of his experiences and 
observations. His intellectual limitations are simply 
due to the lack of systematic training in theoretic 
thinking, not to insufficient inborn capacity. 

Thus Wladek's temperamental predispositions did 
not exclude in advance any possibility of his social 
development; he was not biologically predestined to 
become a Philistine, a Bohemian or a creative man, 
but could tend in his evolution toward any one of 
these limit types. Certain social conditions being 
given, Wladek's evolution would depend on his attitudes 
toward the social values constituting these conditions, 
and vice versuy given certain attitudes toward social 
values, the social conditions in which he found himself 
would determine his evolution. The relative impor- 
tance of diiferent personal attitudes on the one hand, 
and of diiferent social values on the other hand, may 
vary within wide limits, and in trying to reconstruct 
synthetically his personality we must determine first 
of all the attitudes and conditions which played the 
greatest part in his evolution, and characterize his 
type in terms of these. The synthesis might be further 
pursued, taking less important facts into account, but, 
we are forced by the limits of this work to give only the 
most general indications. And we do not claim ulti- 
mate validity for these indicatiohs; until sociological 
analysis has succeeded in determining a number of 
social laws of various degrees of generality, sociologi- 
cal synthesis must be in a large measure hypothetical. 
J The most important attitude — or rather, set of 
attitudes — by which Wladek's evolution is conditioned 
is the "social instinct." He is always completely and 



CONCLUSION 403 

exclusively dependent upon society. Even if at mo- 
ments he isolates himself voluntarily, it is either only 
a temporary reaction to some rebuke or the desire to 
attract attention by withdrawing to the background. 
His social instinct does not prevei^t him from being 
egotistical; the social environment counts only as a 
source of pleasant or unpleasant experiences, not as 
object of altruistic activity. The case is rather fre- 
quent. Real altruism is usually met among those 
who have enough of the attitude of personal inde- 
pendence not to count exclusively upon others for 
their pleasure and pain. But Wladek's exclusive 
dependence upon society is not abnormal at all; it 
is, as we have seen in Vols. I and II, the typical attitude 
of the peasant. And, as in the peasant, it manifpsts 
itself in two ways — as desire for response in immediate 
personal relations with individuals, as desire for 
recognition in relations with a group. 

The first makes Wladek particularly adaptable to 
the demands put forward by other individuals. He 
is unconscious of the source of this adaptability, and 
often claims as meritorious a behavior whose only 
reason is the desire of meeting a pleasant or the fear 
of meeting an unpleasant response. As there is often 
no expectation or fear, or practical consequences, the 
act done to please others seems disinterested; the real 
interest lies in the reaction provoked and is based 
upon a permanent attitude almost as fundamental as 
the sexual desire, although, like the latter, becoming 
conscious and objectively defined only in contact with 
other living beings. Thus, he boasts of his obedience 
to parents and elder brothers and sisters while a child. 
We do not need to appeal to the fear of punishment 
for the explanation of this attitude; unwillingness to 



404 THE POLISH PEASANT 

meet anger is a sufficient explanation, and upon this 
primary attitude the concept of duty was easily grafted. 
The same desire for response is shown in his relation 
to his mother, but while he speaks of loving his mother 
particularly, what he calls love is really this search tor 
response, for there are few cases of any actual sacrifice 
made for her or even of any desire to see her for her 
sake. He does not love his father, and yet in later 
years any proof of trust or affection makes him happy. 
During the period of his vagabondage he naturally 
clings to his family more than ever, and his whole 
mood depends upon the reception he expects and meets 
at home. Finally, the point we have noted in our 
introduction — the variation of his attitudes toward 
the members of his family — shows with particular 
clearness his dependence upon their response, for these 
variations are clearly conditioned by the positive or 
negative, pleasant or unpleasant, attitudes mani- 
fested by them toward himself. 

His childhood relations with the family of the 
teacher D. — even more cordial than those with his 
own relatives — are based on the same desire for 
response. There are in this relation no considerations 
of family pride, economic success, etc., which frequently 
cause his own family to assume unfavorable attitudes 
toward him. As a small boy he is the favorite of the 
teacher, a little later, of the priest. During the period 
of his apprenticeship he won the favor, if not of his 
masters, then ot their wives and daughters. For the 
same reason he succeeds in winning the favor of his 
superiors in Germany (r/. p. 294, note) and in the 
army. He thus shows a particular adaptability in 
securing response from his superiors. With regard 
to equals, his desire for response does not always lead 



CONCLUSION 40s 

to so complete an adaptation, partly because he feels 
more able to impose his personality on them by pro- 
voking some respect and admiration (recognition); 
the "social instinct '^ can obtain satisfaction both in 
the form of response and in that of recognition, and 
the individual is less dependent on the first when he 
is sure of the second. It is true that during his stay 
in Germany, when he gets from his companions an 
unprecedented amount of recognition, he nevertheless 
consciously tries all the time to please them, to pro- 
voke friendly and sympathetic responses. Howevei 
much intoxicated by his successes, he does rtot neglect 
his efforts to keep up a friendly intercouise (cf. p. 336, 
and note). But in that case the very mass of the 
people was an imposing factor, and we usually find 
. that he becomes relatively independent of the response 
of his equals when he has superiors with whom he is 
on good terms. Thus, more than once he shows him- 
self indifferent to a hostile attitude of his fellow- 
journeymen (for example, in Kutno) when he enjoys 
the favor of his master. But the contrary is not true; 
we never see him taking sides with his equals. against 
his superiors, except for a short time in the army, 
against one man whose superiority he does not recog- 
nize. There is nothing of the spiiit of class-solidarity 
in him. And when there are neithei superiors nor 
equals with whom he can associate he falls back upon 
the response of inferiors. He even adapts himself 
in this respect to the drunkards and vagabonds with 
whom he associates. 

The desire for response is particularly clear in his 
relations with women. His search for the company 
of women seems motivated not only by sexual but by 
social desires. He is usually surer of the response of 



j 



4o6 THE POLISH PEASANT 

women than of men, probably because, not being a 
permanent member of any community, he has no 
powerful emotional interests in common with the men 
he meets (except his brothers), whereas the sexual 
instinct gives a strong emotional background on which 
sympathetic responses can develop. And his behavior 
toward women is typical. He never dares reject any 
open or half open advance from a girl, even if he is not 
interested in her and if he has another love affair 
going on, and he never dares to break a relation openly. 
Tfiis does not hinder him from being mean, from 
leaving a girl without a word, from breaking an en- 
gagement tacitly, without reason or explanation, 
etc. The only thing he fears is to face an unfavorable 
attitude of the woman; what she may think or feel 
when he is away he does not mind. 

In general the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the 
desire for response is dependent chiefly on the expressed 
attitudes of others. Curiously enough, Wladek seems 
seldom, if ever, to doubt the sincerity of an expres- 
sion, and the expression is immediately taken at its 
full value. No distinction is made between temporary 
moods and permanent attitudes, and, of course, the 
former find more frequent expression than the latter. 
This dependence on the expression is a general feature 
of people with a relatively low intellectual develop- 
ment, and explains many sudden friendships and 
enmities, breaks and reconciliations. The inconsis- 
tency which we have noticed in Wladek's relation to 
his family depends on this in a large measure, and this 
is also one of the causes explaining the many changes 
in his relations with strangers, the rapidly acquired 
pleasure or disgust in connection with a social milieu, 
etc. 






CONCLUSION 407 

The desire for recognition expresses itself in Wladek 
in a facility of adaptation to any standards recog- 
nized in the group in which he finds himself, not in 
an opposition to those standards and not in any su- 
perior type of activity through which he might gain 
distinction in the group. Recognition represents the 
response of the group, and as Wladek never developed 
any distinguished intellectual, economic, aesthetic 
or moral qualities, and never had a career embodying 
any special attainments, his methods of getting dis- 
tinction remain of the elementary and "showing-oif 
type. He is influenced by the external signs of re- 
spectability — decency of behavior, regularity of life, 
good clothes, etc. — attaching to his class and giving 
this class a position in the hierarchy of classes, and 
these signs and standards of respectability he never 
completely loses during his wanderings. He later 
assimilates other standards. Those of wealth and 
education, as two means of progress in the social 
hierarchy, were partly imitated from his brothers. 
Still others — politeness, interesting conversation, ex- 
ternal nicety — he developed largely in his association 
with girls. In the company of vagabonds he found 
different standards prevailing, to which he adapted 
himself for a time. His life as constable gave him still 
others. When he became a steady member of a 
relatively permanent community standards of moral 
integrity in sexual and economic matters appeared 
for a time, etc. 

Besides accepting the common standards of his 
milieu he tries to display higher standards borrowed 
from a superior milieu, and thus to show off not by 
what he is but by what he stands for. He becomes a 
moral preacher by emphasizing moral ideas which 



4o8 THE POLISH PEASANT 

he has in practice assimilated no more than his en- 
vironment, but which he had the opportunity of better 
observing; he makes a show of knowledge which is 
not sufficient to win recognition from people of a 
middle education, but which is sufficient to make him 
shine among peasants, soldiers, or girls of his class; 
while not adapted by his manners to any superior 
class he shows oif among lower class people by such 
occasional mannerisms as he has succeeded in acquir- 
ing; he is patriotic, in Germany, in Russia, when this 
will secure recognition from his countrymen. But 
in whatever he does there is a theatrical attitude, a 
strong cabotinism which he does not lose at the most 
important moments of his life, and which explains 
the lack of directness, of immediate sincerity in his 
emotions. He much resembles Walenty Piotrowski, 
whose character we briefly analyzed in Volume II. 

In general, then, Wladek seems to have no interest 
that would not be subordinated to the two fundamental 
tendencies to secure response and recognition. His 
economic interests, usually the first to emancipate 
themselves from the "social instinct," remain closely 
subordinated to the latter. If he wants anything 
beyond the satisfaction of his immediate needs it is 
because of the effect it may have on the attitude of 
the social environment. His desire for wealth, or 
at least for a secure position, is always aroused when 
he notices the social recognition attached to material 
success. His attitude toward his work is one of 
perfect indifference; only once he shows interest in 
being skilful — when it is a question of showing his 
skill in a large bakery before a crowd of bakers. The 
only time he learns anything new (in Zgierz) he is 
forced to do so because he cannot find a job in which 



CONCLUSION 409 

this is not required. Consequently the economic 
ideal is not a sufficient basis for his life-organization. 

His intellectual interests are also completely sub- 
ordinated to social life. He never thinks of acquiring 
a higher instruction for its own sake (though his occu- 
pation gave him plenty of free time) nor of making 
instruction the basis of a career. His literary efforts 
are limited to the composition of occasional verses for 
girls or for his masters, and he is quite satisfied with the 
amount of knowledge he has as long as it is enough 
to show off before his environment. So there is no 
possibility of his developing spontaneously any intel- 
lectual ideals. 

With moral life it is the same. A commonplace, 
negative morality, hardly keeping pace with the legal 
code, is his attainment in this field. Occasionally 
he rises to the point of playing the moral preacher 
among less instructed people; self-righteousness and 
hypocrisy are the results. He participates in no way 
in the movement for national liberty. Moral life 
means for him only a minimum of adaptation to his 
milieu or an occasion to show off. Religion is also 
no more than a social rite — in childhood the obliga- 
tory ceremonies of the church and family prayers; in 
later life it is associated with a certain type of regu- 
lated milieu and dropped with the change of milieu. 
Wladek lacks the spontaneous mystical interests to 
become ever by his own desire a really religious man. 

Even his sexual interests, beyond the mere demand 
for sexual satisfaction, depend upon the same social 
tendencies. His interest in women depends as much 
on those things which in his eyes are the basis of social 
superiority as upon qualities able to provoke sexual 
desire. For a time he refuses to have any relations 



4IO THE POLISH PEASANT 

with women of a low social standing, such as maids 
serving in Jewish houses. Except for a veiy young 
girl, the two women in whom he was most interested 
were above him in the social scale, and both foreigners. 
When he plans to marry, differences in education which 
seem to us quite insignificant determine his choice, 
and he wants response not only from the girl but from 
her whole family. The lack of this leads him to break 
one of his engagements. He breaks another because 
the girl does not please his brother. He finally marries 
on the advice of a friend, the girl's uncle. He is thus 
unable to develop spontaneously a romantic ideal of 
love, as he is unable to develop an economical, an 
intellectual, a moral ideal that would be independent of 
the social desires. 

Wladek is thus in his fundamental tendencies a 
typical member of a primary group. He cannot or- 
ganize a personality by his own devices, but needs the 
continual help of the social environment, because his 
spontaneous tendencies themselves push him to rely 
upon the examples and standards of others in defining 
situations and constructing schemes, because every 
situation is for him first of all a social situation, and 
only secondarily an economical, intellectual, moral, 
hedonistic one, because the most important element 
of every situation, the one that determines its meaning, 
is the actual or imagined attitude of some other in- 
dividual or of some group. No doubt this seeking 
for lesponse is over-emphasized in Wladek's behavior. 
He evidently showed in his childhood sneaking, in- 
direct and egotistic traits, and we have pointed out 
elsewhere (Vol. I, p. 484) that almost every numerous 
family of this class selects one child to be worst treated, 
least loved and most exploited. Probably his- early 



CONCLUSION 411 

traits singled Wladek out for this position in the family, 
and his desire for response and recognition were partly 
a struggle against this treatment, just as an organically 
inferior person may attempt to compensate by ab- 
normal forms of behavior/ This does not mean that 
the prevalence of the desires for response and recogni- 
tion was a defect preventing organization; on the 
contrary these desires would have been the necessary 
basis of a life organization containing a pievalence 
of intellectual, economic, moral or hedonistic elements 
if he had found a favorable environment or even 
stayed long enough in one environment to have his 
behavior systematized. 

And in spite of the fact that his life shows a chaos 
of divergent and even contradictory attitudes, we must 
not lose sight of the fact that this primary group or- 
ganization of attitudes was sufficient to prevent his 
ever becoming completely disorganized. His family 
was a decaying primary group, but he had derived 
from its influence enough stability never to become an 
out-and-out vagabond or criminal. Vagabondage is 
his permanent danger, but he cannot become a per- 
manent vagabond, for even this needs some definite- 
ness ot purpose, in the form of at least a negative 
determinism — not worrying about the lack of re gu- 
lated lite, treating vagabondage as a definite form of 
existence. This is what characterizes the true tramp, 
for whom the security of a settled position has lost all 
interest. Wladek, on the contrary, worries all the 
time while vagabonding He vagabonds not for the 
pleasure of having continual new experience, but from 
the expectation that something new and good that 
may happen; when nothing in particular happens he 

> See Alfred Adier, Utbit dm mrvosen Charakur. Wiesbaden, 1913. 



412 THE POLISH PEASANT 

teels more and more disappointed, and when the dis- 
comtort of wandering is added, his desire to settle 
grows more powerful every day. As we pointed out 
in the note upon his wanderings with Walek, he is a 
tramp through a partial disorganization of attitudes, 
while Walek is a tramp from the lack ot any organiza- 
tion of attitudes. The fact that Wladek feels so keenly 
the disruption of his home is sufficient proof of a pri- 
mary organization of attitudes. His persistent pres- 
ervation of some standards throughout his life shows 
precisely the power of the early familial organization 
of attitudes. But none of the milieu through which 
he passed could help him sufficiently in developing 
personal ideals, for in none were these ideals general 
and systematic enough. The fact that his brothers 
succeeded in stabilizing themselves and rising in the 
social scale is not conclusive. The parents had made 
a deliberate investment in the education of Aleksy 
and Stach, intending to benefit from this in their old 
age. Pawel certainly has a more positive character 
than Wladek, but at the same time he was more 
fortunately placed; he was associated with a business 
organization in a city. Wladek's first ventures in 
his apprenticeship were unfortunate, for reasons which 
he could not control, and the whole guild organization 
was at this time in a state of decay, and itself a source 
of disorganization, as we have pointed out in our in- 
troduction and notes. In the baker's trade also the 
very independence in matters of work, the lack of 
regularity, lack of determined standards of quality 
and quantity, were factors of disorganization; they 
developed a carelessness which communicated itself 
to other lines ot individual activity. 

Wladek's attitudes might have been organized and 



CONCLUSION 413 

• 

his behavior systematized in two ways. He might 
have found a permanent milieu which would have 
organized his life on the basis of his fundamental 
desires for response and recognition as that of a perfect 
conformist, a Philistine, or he might have found a set 
of influences in which personal ideals were given him, 
in which through the preseiltation of the example of 
others his intellectual, moral or aesthetic interests 
would have been strengthened and systematized, and 
would have become sufficiently independent of the 
actual and immediate social reactions to persist in 
spite of any changes of environment. If the latter 
had happened the possibility of Wladek's becoming a 
creative man is not excluded. There are organiza- 
tions in Poland which might have assisted him to a 
personal organization of life, but he came into contact 
with them in only a casual way, and we do not assume 
that he was preadapted to their influence. It is 
almost certain that he was not.' 

' Mr. Malicki, in Lodi, evidently represented the revolutionary type of 
these organizations. The young countess who tried to interest herself in 
Wladek and his family probably represented the "movement for enlighten- 
ment," but she was quite helpless herself, and otherwise Wladek never came 
into contact with this movement. We shall study the activities of these 
movements in Volume IV. They are able to give a higher organization, and 
on the contrary they are able to produce a more complete disorganization. 
Zygmunt, in the Piotrowski series (Vol. II, p. 503 ff.), represents the organizing 
effects of the movement for enlightenment, and Jasiiisld (Vol. II, p. 576 ff.) 
is an example of the disorganizing effect of revolutionary teaching presented 
to an nnpreadapted person. We know far too little of the psychology of 
"conversion," of the inoculation of the individual with ideals. We know 
that at a certain point an obscure, ill-conditioned and underfed boy may 
assume a definite life direction and pursue it with the certitude of the homing 
instinct, while a boy with the choicest opportunities of life may convert them 
into the apparatus of his personal disorganization. We know, superficially, 
that example, employment of leisure time, etc., are important factors in 
producing the former effect, but we do not know how to produce the effect. 
The evident preliminary of a scientific study of this whole question is the 
collection of a series of typical life-records. 



414 THE POLISH PEASANT 

During his whole life there is an oscillation of the 
personality of Wladek between Bohemianism and 
Philistinism, between the desire for new experience and 
the desire for security, and we have indicated these 
movements sufficiently in our notes. But at the same 
time there is always a supremacy of the economic 
interests over others — of course, on the basis of the 
social tendencies. That is, the question of the economic 
situation is the most important of his social questions, 
for a Jack ot stability in this line prevents him from 
getting the social response he wants, and a good posi- 
tion would be a basis of social recognition. He conse- 
quently tends to a settled Philistinism, accompanied 
by a growing subordination of all interests — sexual, 
moral, intellectual — to the economic interest. The 
subordination is not perfect; for example, he marries 
without dowry in America, instead of waiting, putting 
money aside and marrying with a dowry after his 
return. But this is only because there is a lack of 
consistency and lack of ideals in general, and we can 
foresee as one of the possibilities of his future evolu- 
tion a state in which his life may be exclusively based 
on the desire for social security, of which economic 
security will be the foundation. 

There are, of course, various types and composites 
of Philistinism — economic, intellectual, moral, poli- 
tical, etc. — but we usually and properly associate 
Philistinism with the predominance of economical 
interests over others, because perfect social security 
can be attained only on the condition of a regulated 
economic life. It is the person with a secure material 
position who has to care for the harmony between 
his character and life-organization and the social 
norms and systems. It is only when this minimum 



CONCLUSION 41S 

is attained that the group pays serious attention to the 
individual's conformism or non-conf ormism ; it is 
little interested positively or negatively in the pro- 
fessional, moral, sexual, intellectual, religious life of 
the vagabond, the tramp, the thief. Now, this eco- 
nomic security, which normally is and should be only 
a means of making other activities possible, may be- 
come for the Philistine the main content of life when 
other interests have not appeared, or have atrophied, 
either as a result of an early suppression of such atti- 
tudes as would make the corresponding activities 
interesting, or as a later result of an insufficient schema- 
tism which did not permit new interests to develop 
after the social maturity of the individual, and thus 
produced a gradual exhaustion of even the interests 
which had been preserved. Then the individual's 
part in social activities limits itself to an abstinence 
from certain acts, to the substitution of words for 
actions in all lines where conformism with the social 
system is demanded — particularly in the political, 
moral, aesthetic, intellectual, and to some extent in 
the professional spheres — to the observance of cer- 
tain forms, such as religious rites and social ceremonies, 
and to economic contributions to social ends — taxes, 
church-collections, charities. We know that by con- 
forming to this minimum the individual can live 
relatively undisturbed in any society, while his real 
sphere of interest is absolutely limited to the most 
egotistic, coarse and monotonous satisfactions pro- 
cured by a secure material existence. 

Wladek's later evolution, as we have indicated in 
the notes, shows a gradual dropping of his ideal claims 
and a tendency toward the economic type of Philis- 
tinism. But his life-record shows also one typical 



4i6 THE POLISH PEASANT 

way of producing Bohemianism. We see an individual 
with a marked dependence on social examples and 
' social schematism who cannot develop all his possi- 
bilities, and at the same time attain a consistency of 
character and a unity of life organization, because his 
environment gives him neither a sufficiently strong 
and consistent social frame nor helps him develop a 
personal ideal. His life is therefore a series of object- 
ively unsuccessful, subjectively inconsistent, endeavors 
to realize various individual possibilities and to profit 
from various social opportunities. Here the failure 
of the individual to fit into the social framework is 
due to the lack of development and organization of 
attitudes, to an insufficiently consistent social frame- 
work. The contrary case is found when the social 
framework is consistent while the individual shows 
much independence and a tendency to self-assertion; 
he then becomes Bohemian by the negation of society. 
These two cases of Bohemianism usually correspond 
to two different states of society. Wladek finds 
around him a society whose ancient forms are rapidly 
dissolving, while new forms are not yet established. 
Under these conditions an individual whose disposi- 
tion makes him dependent upon the social environ- 
ment goes astray unless he has a sufficient degree of 
culture to develop a life-organization himself or comes 
under the organizing influences of the higher classes. 
On the contrary, an individual with strong personal 
initiative may find the same conditions very favorable 
to his development, since society in this period of 
formation has not much power of suppression. And 
such an individual may easily become a Bohemian in 
a society which has a high degree of stability, a strong 



CONCLUSION 417 

and complete schematism, where a type like Wladek 
will prosper and develop. 

It may seem strange that in his actual conditions 
Wladek should finally become a Philistine. But we 
must take into account the fact that if none of the 
social milieux in which he found himself was organized 
strongly enough to give him a positive life-organization, 
none put sufficiently strong demands on his faculty 
of adaptation to make conformism really difficult if 
he wanted to stay. So the problem was simply whether 
the desire for new experience making him change his 
milieu would remain strong enough to keep him a 
Bohemian through his whole life, or would finally 
give place to the desire for security. And here we 
must appreciate two factors helping the desire for 
security to get the upper hand. The range of new 
experience accessible to a man of Wladek's class was 
relatively limited; experiences began to repeat them- 
selves after a time, particularly as he did not develop 
sufficiently to see new points in old experiences. We 
must remember that the subjective ability to notice 
new situations as well as the objective variety of ex- 
periences counts, and on Wladek's level of culture a 
change of external conditions means much less than it 
would mean to a man on a higher stage of intellectual 
development; he does not, for instance, really get 
many new experiences from his coming to America. 
Of course a continuation of new experiences would be 
possible even for a man on this stage of culture if he 
had either material means and opportunity to travel 
much, or if he were not limited by his tendencies to 
social conformism and became a criminal. As it was, 
his desire for new experience began to exhaust itself 
because he ceased to expect interesting happenings. 



4i8 THE POLISH PEASANT 

and the unknown thus lost its attraction. The second 
factor of the growing desire for security was the num- 
erous unpleasant experiences connected with his vaga- 
bonding life, particularly the humiliations and physical 
discomforts. He might have become accustomed to 
both but for the persistence of the early familial atti- 
tudes and the fact that he kept a connection with 
people who had a regulated life, and had himself 
periods of relative comfort. Thus he is never a com- 
plete Bohemian and is destined to settle. And not 
having developed the faculty of life-organization and 
adaptation to social systems, only the lowest type of 
Philistinism is open to him — the one demanding the 
least effort — economic Philistinism. 

His final subsidence is thus again the product of 
his individuality and of the social conditions. If 
in a social group without stable and complete organi- 
zation an individual with a strong dependence on 
society becomes easily a Bohemian, he can as easily 
"reform" and become a Philistine, for little is demanded 
of him; in a strongly organized group it is difficult for 
him to become a Bohemian, but still more difficult to 
settle afterwards, for the demands are too high. On 
the contrary, in the first group a socially independent 
personality finds easily a way to rebel, but cannot be 
brought back to Philistine conformism, for the exist- 
ing conditions cannot satisfy it, while in a strongly 
organized group it may rebel, but when broken and 
brought back to the social organization it often be- 
comes one of its firmest pillars. 

FEB 9 1920